Stirewaltisms: Colorado Dems Elevate Election Denier to Help Polis

[Editor’s note: We finished the work on this week’s note right before the Supreme Court’s abortion decision came down. It’s too soon to know how this will hit specific races, which will substantially depend on the actions taken in statehouses in the coming days and weeks and how candidates come down on this massive shift in the political landscape. The Dispatch team will be on the case, but I’ll be back next week with more analysis. Until then, ignore hyperbole and deterministic analysis, particularly from partisans.]

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/Denver Post/Getty Images.)


Some on the left are getting seriously alarmed about the possibility that a bunch of kooks or crooks may win key positions for administering elections in the anticipated Republican wave in this fall’s midterm elections. 

“MAGA leaders intend to use 2022 midterm wins to install Trump in 2024 regardless of the vote,” LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman told his fellow Democratic mega-donors at a recent meeting to raise millions for defeating Republican candidates who supported Donald Trump’s effort to steal a second term.

Maybe Hoffman and his fellow billionaires should start with their own party.

In Tuesday’s Colorado Republican gubernatorial primary, the top contender had for months been Heidi Ganahl, who won a seat on the state’s university board of regents in 2016 against stiff Democratic competition in a tough year for Centennial State Republicans. She’s a successful businesswoman with a conventionally conservative message: low taxes, less regulation, and tough on crime.

Ganhal could cause plenty of trouble for Democratic incumbent Gov. Jared Polis. While Colorado went for President Biden by 14 points in 2020, the state is far more competitive for mainstream Republicans than it was for Trump or for other fringe or nationalist candidates like former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who has racked up a string of losses. In his re-election bid in 2020, then-Sen. Cory Gardner outperformed Trump by 5 points. He still got caught in the avalanche, but showed how elastic the Colorado electorate is. The state politically acts quite a bit like Virginia: a wealthy, healthy state that leans blue, but is still capable of swinging to red. In a midterm year that is shaping up as a shellacking for the blue team, statewide races in similarly Democratic places like Nevada, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and New Hampshire can quickly get away from incumbents. 

Polis, a former congressman from the state’s reliably Democratic 2nd District, which includes a big chunk of the western Denver suburbs and the college town of Boulder, easily won his seat in the Democratic landslide year of 2018.   

None of that would make Ganahl the favorite in a race with Polis, who, aside from being the incumbent, is also rich and a smart politician who knows how to appeal to voters: His announcement of a $750 tax rebate for all state taxpayers slated for August is sure to be popular amid the inflation crunch. But Ganhal certainly is the kind of candidate that Republican strategists are hoping to field in as many Democratic states as possible. She poses a credible threat in even a slightly favorable environment for Republicans. In a GOP tsunami like 2010 when the red team flipped a dozen governor’s mansions, she could be hard to stop.

Much easier for Polis to stop would be Greg Lopez, the former mayor of the suburban town of Parker who spent six years in the Small Business Administration during the Obama administration before he was forced out over claims of impropriety. Lopez eventually reached a civil settlement with the Justice Department in 2020 on charges of trying to exert improper influence on former colleagues. Lopez finished third in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, but came back with a new approach this time. He’s a staunch backer of Trump’s claims about the 2020 election and has embraced secretary of state candidacy of Tina Peters, the country clerk facing a 10-count indictment for tampering with voting machines for allowing an outside group to access protected computer files in a quest to prove the claims of Trump and his supporters that votes had been switched electronically. Lopez has vowed that if he is elected and Peters is convicted, he will pardon her.

Lopez has a plan to abolish statewide popular voting for governor, moving to a state-level version of the Electoral College. He wants to ban all mail-in voting, and wants to “audit” the 2020 results. But even with the new conspiracy-friendly approach, Lopez hadn’t been able to catch on statewide. 

When I talked to Ganahl this week, she told me her campaign’s polling showed her “way ahead” until the past few weeks, but the race started to shift and is now a “dead heat” between her and Lopez. What changed seems to have been the entry of a new player in the GOP race: Democratic outside spending to elevate Lopez’s standing.

It’s nothing new for partisans to meddle in the other side’s primaries in hopes of drawing an easier general election opponent. Former President Bill Clinton famously encouraged his friend Trump to run for the Republican nomination in 2016, no doubt believing it would help Clinton’s wife’s chances. What is different this time is that Democrats are bolstering candidates like Lopez and his Pennsylvania counterpart, Doug Mastraino, whom Democrats boosted with massive spending on his way to a win in the Keystone State. Boosting extremists may seem shrewd to some Democrats, but it runs counter to the work of the January 6 committee and the activists like Hoffman who are trying to prevent a potential constitutional calamity in 2024. In a year like this one, Democrats are likely to lose some surprising races, which could set up a threat to the peaceful transfer of power.

Even in Colorado, Democrats are crossing the aisle to unite with Republicans alarmed by the efforts by Trump’s team to undermine the constitutional order to defeat radical Rep. Lauren Boebert. But as they do, others in their party are pouring big bucks into both the gubernatorial race and the Senate contest, which also includes a candidate who supported overturning the 2020 result and embraces claims of massive fraud. 

Ganahal tried to duck the issue through most of her candidacy, but recently made it clear that she believes the 2020 election was legitimately decided and, as she told me, that Lopez is dangerous.

“His ideas are not what Colorado voters want to focus on,” she said “What he’s talking about isn’t just helpful for Democrats, it’s dangerous for our state.”

Some Democrats have woken up to the fact that cynically encouraging the most radical elements in the Republican Party is bad for the country. But others, like the ones propping up Lopez on Polis’ behalf, are still willing to put narrow partisan advantage ahead of the national good.

On Tuesday, we’ll get to see if it works in Colorado. 

Holy croakano! We welcome your feedback, so please email us with your tips, corrections, reactions, amplifications, etc. at STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. If you’d like to be considered for publication, please include your real name and hometown. If you don’t want your comments to be made public, please specify.


Biden job performance

Average approval: 38.6 percent
Average disapproval: 55.6 percent
Net score: -17.0 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 0.8 points
Change from one month ago: ↑ 2.2 points

[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 33% approve-57% disapprove; American Research Group: 40% approve-55% disapprove; Ipsos/Reuters: 39% approve-56% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve-57% disapprove;  NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College: 38% approve-53% disapprove]

Generic congressional ballot 

Democrats: 42.2 percent
Republicans: 42.4 percent
Net advantage: Republican Party +0.2 points
Change from one week ago: No change 
Change from one month ago: Republican Party ↓ 2.4 points

[Average includes: Suffolk University/USA Today: 40% Democrat, 40% Republican; Fox News: 44% Democrat, 47% Republican; Ipsos/Reuters: 39% Democrat, 37% Republican; Quinnipiac University: 41% Democrat, 46% Republican; NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College: 47% Democrat, 42% Republican]


Washington Post: “A 10-acre wildfire … was racing toward a condominium complex in West Sacramento, Calif., last month when the flames suddenly slowed and fizzled, sparing the buildings. … It was the result of 400 hungry goats that had eaten the hard-to-reach underbrush surrounding a neighborhood of more than 250 homes, helping to stop the blaze. … West Sacramento has used goat herds since 2014 to clear out tall weeds and low-hanging vegetation as a fire prevention measure  … ‘They can get into places where mowers can’t go, they eat all day without complaining and the fertilizer is free of charge,’ said [Paul Hosley, a spokesman for the city] … ‘They’re amazing — they’ll eat anything,’ Hosley said. ‘Prickly foxtails, poisonous weeds, tall grass, even the leaves of trees. They’ll stand on their hind legs to reach them.’ … More than a dozen states, including Nevada, Oregon and New Mexico regularly use goats for fire management.”

Financial Times: “[The Illinois gubernatorial race] pits three of the richest men in US politics against one another. … The incumbent, Democrat JB Pritzker, is an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune who has self-funded his campaign to the amount of $125mn. Republican Richard Irvin, a mainstream mayor of the state’s second-largest city, is backed by [Ken Griffin], chief executive of Citadel. And his rival for the Republican nomination is Darren Bailey, a far-right state senator who has received more than $9mn from GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein. … The election is on track to be the most expensive gubernatorial race in US history. … It will also be a litmus test of how individual donors can wield influence by writing a big cheque. … While Illinois is a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections, there is significantly more competition at the gubernatorial level. The state behaves like Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland — all blue bastions that regularly elect Republican governors.”

Warming signs for GOP in Missouri Senate race: Washington Post: “Republican operatives and donors in Washington and Missouri are privately working to undercut the Senate campaign of Eric Greitens … after he released an ad that graphically dramatized hunting down members of his own party. But the opposition is split among factions backing different rivals in the Aug. 2 primary and over disagreements on who should attack Greitens or how, according to people involved in the discussions. … Some are concerned that intervening in the race could play into Greitens’s hands by feeding his anti-establishment posturing — or even prompting former president Donald Trump to endorse him. Two people familiar with Trump’s reaction to the Greitens ad said the president … believed it went too far. But Trump has not commented on the ad publicly. … With the election six weeks away, some Republicans are panicking that a Greitens primary victory could hurt the party’s footing in a must-win state to take back control of the Senate.”

Oklahoma Senate GOP primary frontrunner ducks debate: The Oklahoman: “Republicans vying to replace Sen. Jim Inhofe head to the home stretch this week in a race distinguished by the lack of discourse among the top candidates. A State Chamber debate set for Wednesday apparently will be missing the race’s frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, marking the third event in the last few weeks that he has skipped. … The compressed campaign period created by Inhofe’s surprise resignation — announced in late February — has put an extra high premium on money and name recognition in the crowded Republican race, which Mullin and [former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon], now an Oklahoma City banker, have led from the beginning. Mullin has been in Congress for nearly a decade and so is already familiar to an eastern Oklahoma district with 234,000 Republican voters. … Shannon…has not been on a ballot since 2014 but has remained politically active, heading a group called Black Voices for Trump in 2020.”

Poll: Voters pessimistic on economy, blame Biden and Dems: NewsNation: “Voters expressed a negative outlook about inflation and the current state of the economy. About 53% of voters say they were worse off financially than last year. … About 72% rank inflation as the biggest concern facing the United States today over unemployment (4%), COVID-19 (10%), or crime (15%). In light of this concern, a plurality of voters put responsibility for the state of the economy on President Biden (42%). Behind President Biden, 18% of voters blame Democrats in Congress, 21% blame Republicans in Congress, and 19% blame financial institutions. … Also reflecting a more pessimistic financial outlook, 59% of voters think gas prices will be higher six months from now. Faced with increasing gas prices, voters support their company allowing them to work from home to save money on gas (86%).”

DeSantis disses Trump: Politico: “According to four people connected to the governor and former president, [Gov. Ron DeSantis] has not asked [former President Donald Trump] for a formal endorsement and isn’t planning to. It’s a clear sign that DeSantis … has risen high in the GOP stratosphere. DeSantis’ reluctance to seek the former president’s public support comes as the Florida governor prepares for a likely 2024 White House bid, even if Trump also runs in 2024 — setting up a potential clash between two powerful figures in the GOP. … While there have been stories published about the budding rivalry between DeSantis and Trump, they have not stopped talking to each other. … Still, DeSantis has sidestepped questions about his plans for 2024 and whether he would refrain from running for president if Trump seeks another term. When asked directly on Fox and Friends recently if he would run if Trump runs, DeSantis said ‘nice try’ as he brushed aside the question.”

Trump, DeSantis neck and neck in New Hampshire: The Hill: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) edges past former President Trump in a poll of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters over their first choice for president in the upcoming 2024 election. The new University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll released on Wednesday found DeSantis receiving 39 percent support from likely Republican primary voters in the state compared to 37 percent for Trump.”

Newsom positioning for potential 2024 run: New York Times:Gavin Newsom keeps picking exactly the kinds of fights that presidential candidates like to pick. … For months, Newsom, the 54-year-old governor of California, has been taking swipes at red-state governors known to have presidential ambitions. … And though Newsom has declared that he has ‘subzero interest’ in running for president … he appears to be not only positioning himself as a point man for blue states but also laying the groundwork for a future White House run. … The surge of interest in Newsom comes as Democrats begin to openly debate whether Biden, given his age (which is high) and his approval ratings (which are low), ought to bear the party’s standard again in 2024. … ‘If the president were not to run, it’s hard to imagine that Newsom would not be sorely tempted to enter the race,’ said David Axelrod, a longtime Democratic strategist and political adviser to former President Barack Obama.”


Once a rising star for Dems, Gillum arrested on fraud charges—USA Today

Pair of Trump-backed House candidates fail in Georgia primaries—AP

Drucker: Behind Mo Brooks’ epic self-own—Washington Examiner

Poll: Hochul cruising as mega-MAGA GOPers split vote ahead of primary—WNBC

Cornyn faces opposition at home over work on mass shooting bill—Politico

Gas price disruptions deepen, darkening outlook for Dems—Wall Street Journal

Oz scrubs Trump from website—Axios


“No, you’re not. I can see your screen.”—A reporter to Sen. Ron Johnson when the Wisconsin Republican claimed to be on a phone call and unable to answer questions about the revelation that his office had been involved in a scheme to present a phony slate of Electoral College results to then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021.


“Dems have a huge problem with Biden/Kamala in 2024, so the only way out for them is to have a party outsider challenge Biden for the nomination. [Matthew McConaughey] solves that problem and could be an effective opponent for Trump Redux (shudder).  Is this why he ducked out of the [Texas] Gov race?”—William Oldach III, Washington, D.C.

I think a simpler answer, Mr. Oldach, is that it’s probably a lot nicer to be a beloved movie star than the governor of a state, let alone to have to go joust with Beto O’Rourke for the chance. Plus, a partisan run for office with no guarantee of success could have devastating consequences for an actor’s career. Being identified as too strongly associated with either party can cost a mainstream performer half of their potential audience. The truth about celebrity candidates is that they are almost always more appealing as hypotheticals than in reality. The two most obvious exceptions from recent history are Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Trump had already run for president once before and then seriously flirted with a 2012 candidacy before finally taking the plunge. Schwarzenegger had been a fixture in Republican politics for decades by the time he jumped in the 2003 California recall election. And in both cases, their famous names proved hugely advantageous in crowded, chaotic candidate fields. Generally, though, entertainers struggle to make the jump. But I certainly do think that Democrats will need some outside-the-box thinking for 2024. That might include McConaughey, but also Oprah Winfrey, Dwayne Johnson, and others. 

“When I heard the testimony regarding [Donald Trump’s] treatment of Pence, my dislike of him hit a new low.  I have come to believe that [Nancy Pelosi] made a huge miscalculation by not letting [Kevin McCarthy] name the GOP members to the committee.  I do not see how anyone could have challenged much of what I have heard so far, from Republicans no less, without looking like a fool.  Further it would have made the committee truly bipartisan and might have changed more minds on the GOP side.  Or perhaps she knew what she was doing and didn’t want to do anything that might in the end be helpful to the Republican party.  Your thoughts on that?”—Paul Gross, Murray, Kentucky

It’s even worse than that: McCarthy withdrew his appointees because Pelosi refused to seat two of his picks because they had been part of Trump’s effort to steal a second term. Rather than make two more picks, McCarthy backed out entirely hoping to scuttle the committee entirely. You also have to remember that the hearing would be proceeding very differently had McCathy put members on the panel. The clean narrative that Democrats have maintained would have been upended by Republicans looking to provide cover for their own team. Plus, the GOPers could have pushed harder on Pelosi and her leadership team over security failures around the attack. McCarthy’s picks could have done a lot of things to distract, divide, and discourage the committee. The main strategic error here seems to be McCarthy’s retreat.

You should email us! Write to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM with your tips, kudos, criticisms, insights, rediscovered words, wonderful names, recipes and always good jokes. Please include your real name—at least first and last—and hometown. Make sure to let me know in the email if you want to keep your submission anonymous. My colleague, the courageous Abbey Black, and I will look for your emails and then share the most interesting ones and my responses here. Clickety clack! 


For our discussion about how the January 6 committee’s work will affect the 2024 Republican nominating process, the bosses picked a picture of a picture of Donald Trump. Our winner kept is simple and relatable for anyone who has ever had to try to get a co-worker through the technical difficulties of remote work:

“Sir, you’re on a Zoom call. No need to use the phone.”—Seth Bell, New Milford, Connecticut

Winner, sentimental favorite category:

“Photo of President Donald J. Trump offering former AEI research assistant Samantha Goldstein a position at his new ‘Center for TRUMP Studies’ think tank as a Senior Trump Fellow focusing on his 3rd term in 2025.”—Craig Berry, Frankfort, Illinois 

Send your proposed cutline for the picture that appears at the top of this newsletter to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. We will pick the top entrants and an appropriate reward for the best of this month—even beyond the glory and adulation that will surely follow. Be hilarious, don’t be too dirty, and never be cruel. Include your full name and hometown. Have fun! 


Reuters: “Stage four of the Tour of Slovenia was decided by a game of chance, as Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar finished second behind teammate Rafal Majka following a round of rock, paper, scissors to determine the victor. Pogacar and Majka were in no danger of being caught after surging ahead with 5 km (3 miles) left, taking their hands off the handlebars in the final stretch to indulge in a quick game, with Majka’s paper trumping Pogacar’s rock. The UAE Team Emirates duo shared an embrace as Majka crossed the finish line inches ahead of Pogacar, who retained the overall leader’s jersey. ‘We had a great day. We did the last climb together, then Tadej said I should win the stage,” Majka said on Saturday. “I’m now also in a good position for second overall. This is all very good before the Tour de France, we try to stay safe and win races.’”

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Broken News, a book on media and politics available August 23. Abbey Black contributed to this report.

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