Three of the five candidates vying to be the next chair of the Colorado Republican Party said the 2020 presidential election may have been stolen during a forum broadcast live on Facebook on Thursday.
Former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and party vice chair Kristi Burton Brown are considered favorites to win the position. They disagreed over whether the election was stolen, but both appeared to accept there was fraud.
The event was held in Weld County to replace outgoing chair Congressman Ken Buck, who received some criticism from the candidates. One contender, Caspar Stockham, took aim at Buck for saying Colorado’s elections were secure, according to the Denver Post‘s Justin Wingerter.
Each candidate was asked if they believed the election was stolen. Three said that it was, Brown said there was fraud but did not claim the election was stolen, while the fifth candidate, Jonathan Lockwood, dismissed the idea.
“I truly believe it was stolen,” Rich Mancuso said.
“I also agree the election was stolen,” Stockham said. When he was later asked for evidence of that, he added: “I don’t know if the election was stolen but I feel it was.”
Gessler said the election “[m]ay have been stolen.”
Gessler responded to Lockwood, saying: “Look, Jonathan, you’re just wrong.”
Brown criticized Gessler for bringing Dominion Voting Systems to Colorado. The firm has been the center of unsubstantiated allegations of improper conduct during the 2020 election and has filed major defamation suits against some of its most prominent detractors.
“We can’t have a Republican Party chair who has profited off of casting doubt on elections,” Lockwood said of Gessler. Lockwood has previously expressed support for the anti-Donald Trump Lincoln Project.
Since Trump’s defeat in November, some of his allies in the Republican Party have embraced unfounded conspiracy theories about mass voter fraud and other irregularities, arguing the former president was the real winner.
Both Brown and Gessler are in favor of a recount of Colorado’s votes and a review of Dominion voting machines, according to Axios.The state backed President Joe Biden with 55.4 percent of the vote in November. Colorado hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since former President George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004.
Gessler, who was Colorado’s secretary of state from 2011 to 2015, said a “full and complete investigation will prove widespread election fraud. And maybe show that President Trump rightfully won the election!” on Facebook on January 30.
Outgoing chair and serving Congressman Ken Buck defended the integrity of the election on December 3: “I think it’s so important for us to understand that our votes are not being manipulated,” he said.