Plus: Who the biggest donors to federal campaigns and committees are, and an update on the Trump rally this weekend in Wyoming.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

What we’re watching in the primaries, political messaging begins and Tim Reichert testifies for Facebook

Plus: Who the biggest donors to federal campaigns and committees are, and an update on the Trump rally this weekend in Wyoming.

Jesse Paul + Sandra Fish
Reporter | Data Journalist

Colorado state Sen, Don Coram, left, and U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Garfield County, debate at the Sky Ute Resort and Casino in Ignacio on May 26. (William Woody)


With Memorial Day weekend now behind us, primary season is kicking into high gear. County clerks can start mailing ballots on June 6, which means candidates only have about a week left to get their message out before voters start filling in bubbles.

Here are eight things we are going to be watching heading into June 28:

  • It’s all about Republicans. With the exception of a few Democratic legislative primaries, the GOP contests next month are really going to be where the action is.
  • Now that we’ve got that out of the way, our first big question is: Are election conspiracies going to dominate the Republican primaries? We’ve already written about this question and the potential answers to it. Click here to delve in more.
  • Is big money going to swoop in? And, if so, when? There are a lot of groups and wealthy individuals who could spend large sums to influence the Republican primaries. We’re already seeing contractors spend to prop up Joe O’Dea, the construction company owner running for U.S. Senate against state Rep. Ron Hanks. Does MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell spend on behalf of Hanks and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who is running for secretary of state? Does former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson get a boost from a group like Unite America through Voters First Colorado? So far, the spending has been relatively small.
  • Speaking of money, how much cash will Republican candidates burn? In the new, highly competitive 8th Congressional District, the four candidates in the GOP primary may drain their bank accounts before they face state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, the Democratic nominee to represent the district.
  • There’s a chance that some of these Republican primary candidates could come out wounded. There’s plenty of opposition research still swirling out there. A big story or two could really shake things up.
  • Do any incumbents get knocked out? This kind of speaks for itself. It’s unlikely, but we will have our eyes on the 1st, 3rd and 4th congressional districts.
  • Will Heidi Ganahl keep lying low? The Republican gubernatorial candidate turned down our request to debate her primary rival, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez. She hasn’t done an in-depth interview with a nonpartisan news outlet. Both are indications that she thinks she will cruise to the nomination, but she probably can’t stay on this path in the general election if she wants to have any shot at unseating Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
  • Will President Joe Biden’s numbers rebound? OK, this won’t be decided in the June 28 primary, but how this plays out will affect the general election.

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HEADS UP: Today’s edition is a bit shorter than normal because of Memorial Day.


MORE: The one big wildcard in Colorado’s Republican primaries is former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed only one candidate so far: U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Garfield County.

We’ll be watching closely to see if he wades into any other races. Peters has already made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s home and a must-visit for candidates seeking his endorsement.

Former President Donald Trump endorses Harriet Hageman for Wyoming's U.S. House seat during a rally May 28, at the Ford Wyoming Center, in Casper. (Lauren Miller/The Casper Star-Tribune via AP)

ADDENDUM: Peters was among the host of speakers who introduced Trump at his rally Saturday in Casper. She didn’t delve into election fraud claims, but did endorse U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary opponent, Harriet Hageman, a former member of the Republican National Committee.

Boebert was another introductory speaker. She mentioned a debunked claim that the Biden administration was going to distribute crack pipes as part of its drug harm reduction efforts, taking credit for the plan (which fact-checkers say wasn’t actually planned) being abandoned.

Boebert referred to herself as a “professional RINO hunter.” RINO means Republican in name only and the congresswoman made the remark in reference to her 2020 defeat of U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton. Boebert endorsed Hageman, too.


A look at what will make headlines this week

  • The Western Conservative Summit, sponsored by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, will be held Friday and Saturday at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Conference Center in Aurora. A full schedule can be found here.
  • County clerks can begin mailing primary ballots to voters on Monday.


The 10 Coloradans who donated the most to federal candidates and political committees from Jan. 1, 2021, through the end of April gave more than $12 million, a Colorado Sun analysis shows. (Sandra Fish, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The 10 Coloradans who donated the most money to federal candidates and political committees from Jan. 1, 2021, through the end of April gave more than $12 million, a Colorado Sun analysis shows.

Tatnall Hillman, who lives in Aspen, tops the list with nearly $3.3 million in donations to Republican candidates and committees. His $2.1 million to the federal super PAC Drain the DC Swamp accounts for nearly all that PAC’s donations. The group supports followers of former President Donald Trump.

Second on the list is Denver philanthropist Merle Chambers, who donated nearly $2.5 million to federal candidates and committees from January 2021 and the end of April. Much of that went to committees aligned with the Democratic National Committee. Chambers made her fortune through the oil and gas industry and investments.

Billionaire Phil Anschutz, who owns The Gazette and Colorado Politics, donated nearly $1.4 million to federal candidates and committees while his The Anschutz Corp. gave $950,000. The Denver Republican and his company donated heavily to committees working to elect GOP congressional candidates.

And Michael Smith, an oil and gas billionaire who operates Broomfield’s Kaitar Foundation, donated $1 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, which works to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate.

Other notables on the list include: Pat Stryker, a Democratic donor who is fifth on the list; Joe O’Dea, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate and construction company order, who is seventh on the list after giving to his campaign; and Larry Mizel, a Denver businessman and Republican donor who is eighth on the list.


Tim Reichert criticizes big tech. He’s also an expert witness for it.

Tim Reichert. (Handout)

Tim Reichert, a wealthy Republican running to represent the 7th Congressional District, has blasted big tech, including Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg, on the campaign trail.

“The Democrats have become the party of Wall Street and the technology oligarchs on one side and they are the party of a dependent class on the other. They either want you to be an oligarch or they want you to be dependent,” Reichert said during a telephone town hall earlier this year. “So the natural home for the middle class now is the Republican party.”

But Reichert, an economist, also recently testified as an expert witness on Facebook’s behalf in a federal lawsuit brought against the company in San Francisco by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS alleges Facebook owes billions in unpaid taxes.

LAW360 reported on May 5 that the IRS tried (unsuccessfully) to block Reichert from testifying in the trial because he didn’t disclose his writings on the economics of contraception and abortions.

On Reichert’s financial disclosure form, which laid out assets totaling between $23 million and $99 million, he listed the law firm of Baker McKenzie as paying him more than $5,000 in compensation for consulting. The firm is representing Facebook in the IRS case.

"Tim's work with many industries has allowed him to develop true expertise and real solutions to the top issues — like inflation — that Colorado families face,” Audrey Hudson, a Reichert spokeswoman, said in a written statement. “His work with Facebook has allowed him to understand exactly how its business model works. As we look to rein in Facebook’s monopoly on the public square, don't you think it's helpful to have someone with that expertise in Congress?"

Reichert, as part of his campaign, is pushing for a requirement that technology companies “rent” data from people through a clearinghouse that provides an income stream to tech users.


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A quick rundown of the latest political news in Colorado

>> VETOES: Gov. Jared Polis vetoed three bills on Friday evening: House Bill 1387, which would set regulations for homeowner’s associations around reserve studies; House Bill 1221, which would have set up a mental health program for coroners and mortuary workers in the Behavioral Health Administration; and House Bill 1399, which would have penalized people who claim to be a music therapist if they don't have an active music therapist board-certified credential from the Certification Board of Music Therapists.

>> ELECTION 2022: The Colorado Chamber of Commerce endorsed candidates running in legislative primaries for the first time because, according to The Denver Business Journal, the organization is worried about the two major political parties becoming increasingly polarized and less willing to engage in practical business discussions.

>> ELECTION CONSPIRACY: Montrose County Clerk Tressa Guynes, a Republican, allowed members of the public, including those who falsely believe the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, to examine ballots and compare them to machine count last week. The move came after questions continued despite previous audits of the results. "The audits, as well as members of the public on Thursday, did not find any substantial evidence of machine error or fraud in Montrose,” The Montrose Press reported.

>> COLE WIST: Former state Rep. Cole Wist, a Republican who switched his voter registration to unaffiliated, talked with ProPublica about his support of a “red flag” bill in 2018. He lost his reelection bid that year to state Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Centennial Democrat. Wist took issue with the 2019 version of the red flag bill, which was sponsored by Sullivan and became law. Wist said backing the 2018 legislation was tough. “I received threats as a result of going through that process,” Wist told ProPublica. “And that was very stressful for my family. I don’t miss that part of public life.”


Political messaging ramps up as primary nears

A political mailer in the 8th Congressional District.

Political messaging is ramping up as the June 28 primary nears.

As of Sunday, anonymous missives (like this one in the 8th Congressional District comparing Republican Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine and Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo) must carry disclosures about who sent them.

The Saine/Caraveo mailer we were tipped off to carried a union printing insignia, so it may be aimed at helping Saine in the four-way GOP primary in the brand new and highly competitive congressional district.

At the state legislative level, Assuring Quality Healthcare Access for Colorado is spending to support incumbent Republicans Sen. Paul Lundeen, Colorado Springs, and House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, of Loveland. Both face primary challenges from candidates who claim to be more conservative. The state-level super PAC spent $22,500 on door hangers and canvassing for each of the two incumbents. It’s funded by members of COPIC, the state’s primary medical malpractice insurer.

Meanwhile, the Better Jobs Coalition, another state-level super PAC, reported spending nearly $7,700 on a mailer supporting Shana Jo Black, a Manitou Springs lawyer running in the GOP primary in House District 18.

A super PAC named Building a Better Colorado spent more than $24,000 to support Democrat Ruby Dickson in House District 37, an open district based in Arapahoe County. She defeated Ken Stable at HD37 Democratic assembly and thus does not face a primary challenger.

ADDENDUM: New state-level super PACs formed in recent days include Defend Colorado IEC, which lists the same address as nonprofit Defend Colorado, a conservative political nonprofit. Defend’s filing says it will support candidates who serve in an “honest, professional and non-biased manner.”

Relatedly, the Clean Elections Colorado website, with ads criticizing Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who is running to unseat Griswold, now carries a disclosure that it is paid for by Defend Colorado IEC.

Another new state-level super PAC, Right Colorado, will support campaigns based on “individual liberty, free enterprise, limited government.” Castle Pines City Councilman Roger Hudson, a Republican who was recently working as an adviser to the House GOP, is the agent for that group.

The new committees won’t have to report their contributions or spending until June 13.

HELP US OUT: Are you getting mailers, door hangers, text messages asking you to support candidates? Take a picture or screenshot and email it to She’ll remove personal identifiers and research who is behind the messages.

The stories that inform the Colorado headlines

>> Donald Trump tells Wyoming to “fire” Liz Cheney (The Casper Star Tribune)

>> Democrats see progress with Joe Manchin in last-ditch talks on Biden economic agenda (The Wall Street Journal)

>> After El Paso shooting, Donald Trump pushed again on gun control. His aides talked him out of it. (The New York Times)

>> Florida Republicans beat the gun lobby. Congress hasn’t followed. (The Washington Post)

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