Heidi Ganahl will be torn between Trumps Big Lie and reality

I’m sure that everyone knew at least one kid growing up who cheated at games and then accused everyone else of cheating if they didn’t win. The kid who flipped the game board over, or kicked the ball over the fence, and ran home.

I couldn’t help but think of my childhood sore loser as I felt the very foundation of the republic creak under the weight of former President Donald Trump’s “major announcement” on October 20, 2016, “that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election … if I win.”

And, of course, though Trump did win in 2016, he continued to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election that gave him the presidency. Unsurprisingly, his attacks on democracy were orders of magnitude worse when he lost in 2020.

With millions of outstanding ballots left to count, and the returns looking worse and worse for Trump, the president took to the East Wing of the White House on election night and told his supporters that he won a race that he would go on to lose.

I cannot find a substantive difference between the snot-nosed sore loser of our collective youth and Donald J. Trump. But, since GOP leaders have coddled Trump’s delusions instead of standing up to him, The Big Lie has now become a litmus test that spells doom for Republicans in Colorado and across the country in 2022. History suggests that Republicans should be gearing up to win a number of important elections up and down the ballot next year, but they can’t get on with winning in 2022 because they can’t get over losing in 2020.

Republican activists, primary voters, and both clueless and feckless politicians alike have set the bar for being a member of the Republican Party at “full-blown denial of reality.”

About 59% of Republican voters surveyed in a national CNN poll conducted earlier this month say that “believing that Donald Trump won the 2020 election” is either a very or somewhat important aspect of being a Republican. That’s three out of five self-identified Republicans saying that unless you believe a damnable lie, you are no longer welcome in the club.

That’s weird, but the consequences are real. Last week, Republican Heidi Ganahl previewed the announcement of her uphill candidacy for governor of Colorado with a video of her literally walking up a hill.

At Ganahl’s campaign kickoff event a few days later, The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul, The Denver Post’s Alex Burness, and 9News’s Marshall Zelinger all asked versions of the same question: Do you accept the outcome of the 2020 election?

Ganahl refused to answer, in fact, Ganahl chastised Zelinger for asking a “divisive question.”

This may endear Ganahl to a majority of Republicans, according to that CNN poll, but it will alienate the rest of Colorado voters. In survey after survey, the vast majority of Americans report that they believe President Joe Biden won the election fair and square, putting GOP candidates in a serious bind — do they pander to the delusions of Trump to win a primary election, or do they oppose conspiracy theories about the 2020 election to not alienate the rest of the voting public?

So what does Ganahl really believe? Does she represent the 59% of her fellow Republicans who think it’s important to believe The Big Lie? Or, does she actually know better but would rather not answer a very simple question for fear of angering the Trump base? Frankly, I’m not sure what’s worse, but it’s disqualifying either way.

Maybe this is why there is exactly one Republican with name recognition who has announced a bid for governor in Colorado. Republicans have no challengers for treasurer or attorney general. The only Republican who filed for secretary of state is some guy who has a website that looks like it was built when people were still using dial-up modems.

The truth is, Colorado is becoming further and further out of reach for statewide Republican candidates anyway. Colorado Republicans haven’t won a major statewide election since 2014 when former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner eked out a win in a GOP wave year by less than 2 points. Since then, it’s been a death spiral for the right.

Republicans have to do a lot of things right to get back in the good graces of Colorado voters. I can’t think of a worse place to start than believing, or worse, pretending the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Ian Silverii is the founder of The Bighorn Company, a dad, a husband, and the former director of ProgressNow Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @iansilverii.

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