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Northwest Colorado GOP still backing felon Trump but bailing on Williams

June 19, 2024, 11:03 am

Northwest Colorado, the Republican parts of it anyway, remains solidly Trump country despite his felony convictions last month on 34 counts in New York. Trump’s Colorado golden boy, however — state Republican Party Chair Dave Williams — may be on a bit shakier ground.

While many MAGA stalwarts are still backing now-convicted ex-president Donald Trump, the Eagle County Republican Party last week joined 12 other county Republican parties in calling for the resignation of Williams, whom Trump has endorsed in his race for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District (Colorado Springs and surrounding El Paso County).

Tony Martinez

“Yes, this is public knowledge,” Eagle County Republican Party Chair Tony Martinez wrote in an email asking about Williams. “However, I’m not willing to move forward with you until I see honest reporting on all that is going on. I’m not suggesting that what you have written are lies, but I’m not seeing any honesty around all that is happening with this country.”

Martinez did not respond to an email asking why the Eagle County GOP is seeking Williams’ ouster – specifically whether it was because of the state party chair’s homophobic email targeting Pride Month and declaring “God Hates Pride” or because of policy disagreements. In October, Martinez told the Colorado Times Recorder that the local party would maintain pre-primary neutrality despite Williams’ divisive move to reverse that policy at the state level.

Dave Williams

For instance, Williams’ Colorado Republican Party has endorsed MAGA candidate and Jan. 6 attendee Ron Hanks in the 3rd Congressional District race vacated by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert instead of establishment favorite Jeff Hurd ahead of the Tuesday, June 25, Republican Primary. Democrat Adam Frisch, who lost to Boebert by just 546 votes in 2022, appears to favor Hanks as a general election opponent. CD3 includes part of Eagle County and most of the Western Slope.

Instead of specifying the local party’s beef with Williams, Eagle County’s Martinez made this demand: “As an example, [former Trump advisor] Steve Bannon has been ordered to go to jail for the EXACT same thing that [Obama administration Attorney General] Eric Holder was charged with. What is the difference between those two? If you can tell me the difference and are willing to be an honest member of the press and ‘print it’, we can move forward.”

Bannon, a private citizen not working for the Trump White House, was ordered by a Democrat-controlled House to testify before the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack. Pardoned by Trump for his role in defrauding donors to a border wall project, Bannon later pushed hard to deny the constitutionally mandated certification of President Joe Biden, telling Trump to get “[Vice President Mike] Pence off the …. slopes of Vail”. Bannon refused to testify, was found in contempt of Congress and successfully prosecuted, with no credible claim of executive privilege.

Holder, who was still in office, was found in contempt by a Republican-controlled House for refusing to turn over documents in the “Fast and Furious” case, citing executive privilege. Subsequently, Democrats found Trump AG William Barr in contempt, and Republicans just did the same to current Biden administration AG Merrick Garland. Both claimed executive privilege.

The Eagle County Democratic Party declined to comment on “internal issues to the Republican Party.”

As for Trump’s conviction, Eagle County’s Martinez defended his statements to the Vail Daily claiming the first felony conviction of a former president sets a “dangerous precedent” and urging Biden to issue an immediate pardon for Trump’s state conviction – an impossibility, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Asked if the precedent should be the same for everyone, including former presidents, regardless of their political party, Martinez replied: “The most dangerous precedent is being set by the Democrat party. Prosecuting your political enemies places the United States on the brink of losing our democracy at the hands of the Democrats. We believe that there is absolute malfeasance within the Department of Justice that is being directed by the White House directly.”

The same DOJ recently convicted Biden’s son Hunter for false reporting of his drug addiction when purchasing a handgun in 2018 and is prosecuting Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez on corruption charges. Joe Biden says he will not pardon his son Hunter, who has never served in the White House in any capacity.

Asked about the U.S. Supreme Court weighing whether Trump is subject to prosecution in the Jan. 6 federal election interference case (a ruling is expected in the next few weeks) and the potential “dangerous precedent” of presidents defying the peaceful transfer of power, Martinez wrote this:

“President Trump wasn’t trying to ‘stay in office’, as you’re alluding to,” Martinez wrote. “Election integrity is of great concern in this country as it should be for ALL registered voters. Furthermore, Democrats since 2000 have tried to ‘stay in office’ and denied the election results when they’ve lost. Al Gore, Hillary Clinton – pioneers when it comes to election denying!”

In fact, broadly speaking, Trump faces federal felony charges for trying to stay in office after dozens of legal challenges and countless failed attempts to uncover voting fraud fell through and he urged a riotous mob to converge on the U.S. Capitol during congressional certification of the Electoral College count in favor of Biden. That riot by Trump backers turned violent and deadly.

The Gore comparison has been debunked by even the Libertarian CATO Institute, which points out the former vice president had a legal case in Florida and pursued it vigorously until the U.S. Supreme Court intervened, and then he conceded once the results were certified and presided over the certification of the Electoral College count.

As for Hillary Clinton questioning everything from Republican voter suppression tactics to Russian hacking of Democrats in the 2016 election, it’s important to point out she didn’t falsely and repeatedly allege widespread voting fraud or deny that Trump won the election. And Clinton and Gore did not engage in a system of fake electors, as several states accuse Trump of doing.

Eagle County, where the only elected Republican is the sheriff, went for Biden by 30 percentage points in 2020, but to the northwest in much more rural Moffat County, Trump won by 64%. Eagle County is the 15th most populous in the state (55,000), while Moffat is the 35th (13,000). Clearly, the House District 26 (Eagle, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco) race will be won in counties that went for Biden in 2020.

That isn’t causing Craig City Council member and Republican HD26 candidate Nathan Butler to have any second thoughts about supporting Trump as he takes on incumbent Democrat Meghan Lukens, a Steamboat Springs social studies teacher.

“I’m running for the state house, not Congress,” Butler wrote in an email. “As the representative for HD26, my focus will be on the issues facing Northwest Colorado and representing the constituents in HD26 to the best of my ability, as it should be.

“That said, regarding the Trump trial, it went about as I expected. My opinion hasn’t changed, and I believe it’s important to remember that we have an appeals process for a reason. It allows for a second look at cases, ensures fairness, and guarantees that the law is applied consistently. It’s unfortunate that many people prioritize their personal dislike for Trump over the pursuit of justice. Our legal system is meant to be fair and impartial, not a tool for political retribution.”

Lukens, who primarily teaches AP U.S. Government, had this to say about the Trump conviction:

“Colorado’s voters will decide for themselves the presidential candidate they want to vote for,” Lukens wrote in an email. “As an elected official, I respect voters’ decisions and work to address our most pressing needs. I am focused on results for the people of Northwest Colorado, especially regarding some of our most critical issues that are unique to the Western Slope — like affordable housing, early child care, and protecting our precious water resources.”

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder website.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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