Two-thirds of Colorado House GOP members voted Tuesday in favor of formally thanking state Rep. Ron Hanks and those who joined him at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
A majority of House Republicans also voted to “call into question” whether Joe Biden was legitimately elected; to urge the decertification of 2020 election results in an effort to reinstall former President Donald Trump; to support embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, an ally of election deniers who is under investigation for allegedly allowing a security breach in her elections division; and to commit to ensuring dead people are removed from voter rolls — something for which there is already a process in Colorado.
Each of these proposals came as amendments to HR22-1004, a resolution brought by Colorado Democrats who want to urge Congress to adopt voting rights legislation. Democrats control the House and easily defeated each Republican amendment, ultimately passing the resolution on strict party lines.
Lawmakers often jokingly refer to resolutions as “letters to Santa” — that is, messages that will never land. That’s surely the case here, as the Democrats have no apparent path to passing voting rights legislation without abolishing the filibuster. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have made clear they will not support that action.
And so the Colorado resolution functions mainly as a chance for politicians to take a side, on record, on the matters of elections and voting rights. The resolution passed 20-13 in the Senate, with all Republicans but Henderson’s Kevin Priola voting no, and all Democrats voting yes.
Hanks, a Fremont County Republican and candidate to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in November, attended Trump’s rally on Jan. 6 and then marched to the U.S. Capitol, sparking a Colorado House Democrat to call for his removal early last year. He spoke well Tuesday of the people he met in D.C.
“They were such nice people, Mr. Speaker,” he said. “These people did nothing wrong. They were afraid for their country.”
The Republicans who voted for the amendment to support Hanks, which also called for the removal of dead people from voter rolls, were: Reps. Mark Baisley of Roxborough Park, Rod Bockenfeld of Watkins, Marc Catlin of Montrose, Richard Holtorf of Akron, Stephanie Luck of Penrose, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, Rod Pelton of Cheyenne Wells, Andres Pico of Colorado Springs, Janice Rich of Grand Junction, Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, Matt Soper of Delta, Tonya Van Beber of Eaton, Kevin Van Winkle of Highlands Ranch, Perry Will of New Castle, Dave Williams of Colorado Springs and Dan Woog of Erie. Representatives who voted against were House Minority Leader Hugh McKean of Loveland, Mary Bradfield of Colorado Springs, Terri Carver of Colorado Springs, Colin Larson of Littleton and Mike Lynch of Wellington. Hanks recused himself from the vote, and Tim Geitner of Colorado Springs and Kim Ransom of Douglas County were both excused from the vote.
The speaker, Democrat Alec Garnett of Denver, shouted from the House lectern after all the Republican amendments were defeated.
“In Colorado, we cannot remain silent! Did you see those amendments? The choice is clear! The choice is clear, between the two groups of elected representatives in this building today,” he said.
“Holy moly. We cannot remain silent. We cannot remain silent. Colorado, America, listen up! This is serious. You are under threat. Your ability to vote is under threat.”
McKean made clear how far apart he is from so many in that caucus when, toward the end of Tuesday’s debate, he said, “Folks, Joe Biden won the election in 2020, just like Donald Trump won it in 2016.”
The minority leader allies himself with the relatively moderate flank of his party, which prompted Hanks and several others to unsuccessfully try to oust him from leadership after the last session. McKean stresses mainstream issues like taxes and public safety, always downplaying the extent to which election denialism and other far-right pursuits are factors in the caucus he leads.
Prior to the vote, the House GOP sent out a statement slamming Democrats for bringing this resolution in the first place, calling it an “epic waste of everyone’s time” to relitigate the election. It is improper to spend time on this issue so soon after a holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the statement read. King fought for voting rights before his assassination, and his family this year asked people not to celebrate the holiday unless and until Congress passes voting rights legislation.
“We cannot celebrate Dr. King’s birthday while standing idly by,” Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail said during the Senate’s much shorter and more reality-based discussion. “You cannot just tweet. You cannot just give a speech. You cannot just show up on a holiday and post a picture.”
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