One evening a handful of curious voters mingled in the suburbs of a Denver beer pub as Pam Anderson told them she could return professionalism to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Anderson presented her resume – a former county clerk, head of the state clerks’ association and an ardent supporter of the Colorado mail voting system – making it clear that she matched the profile of a Republican-backed technocrat in Colorado.

“I am the only person in this election, including the primaries, who has a real record in the fairness of the election,” Anderson said.

Anderson struck a blow at her more famous primary rival, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who set a shining example GOPA new approach to elections.

A grand jury earlier this year accused Peters of her role in invading her constituency’s election system while hunting for evidence of conspiracy theories disbanded by the former president. Donald Trump. A judge has already banned Peters from running in last year’s local election due to controversy, and this week banned Peters from running this year as well. However, she has become a heroine for those who do not believe in the real results of the 2020 elections.

“I did my best. They made me sleep on the concrete floor of a prison for 30 hours because I defended your election data, ”Peters told a crowd of 3,000 Republican activists and officials at a state party convention last month. “They know who to fear.” Sixty percent of the participants voted for her to lead the ballot for the Secretary of State at the June 28 primaries.

For nearly a century, U.S. elections have relied on a kind of guerrilla truce. They are run by thousands of local officials, often elected in guerrilla races, and are usually overseen by secretaries of state running around the state along with candidates for positions such as attorney general and governor. But, as a rule, the administration of the elections itself was conducted in a non-partisan manner, and those who claim supervisory positions are more technocrats than the Crusaders.

That is changing after Trump’s loss in 2020. The former president is recruiting a class of party candidates for secretaries of state, who are repeating his lies about losing the election due to rigging and claiming that he should have remained president. The rivalry between Peters – she joined Trump at his Florida headquarters in Mar-a-Lago last week – and Anderson is perhaps the toughest fight between these traditions in the Republican Party.

The two candidates will face each other in a debate Thursday night in a Denver suburb along with a third Republican in the race, businessman Mike O’Donnell, another election candidate.

There is no doubt that the rejection of the election wins the struggle within the Republican Party. Last month in Michigan, Christina Karama, a Trump-approved public college professor, won a nomination from the Republican Party to run for secretary of state after arousing suspicions in the 2020 election. Candidates with similar positions are running in Republican primaries in each state, including for secretary of state in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

An Associated Press-NORC poll last year found that two-thirds of Republicans doubt Biden was legally elected president. Trump continues to develop the myth that the election was influenced by massive voter fraud. He and his supporters have lost more than 60 lawsuits in an attempt to demonstrate such fraud. His own Ministry of Justice, as well as numerous other investigations and audits, revealed no significant fraud.

Although Trump’s denial of the election has taken root in the party, many Republican strategists fear it could turn to them in November. In Colorado, some Republicans fear Peters ’ideas in the general election.

“In democrats they’ll love it and they’ll do their best to make every Republican candidate look like they come from the same DNA as Tina Peters, ”said Scott McKinnis, a former Republican congressman who is now on the Mesa County Commission.

McGinnis and other Republican commissioners from Mesa County have long clashed with Peters. Her persecution is being monitored by a local district attorney, a Republican. McGinnis predicts Anderson will win the primaries.

“I don’t think Republican voters will vote for someone who has nine counts of serious crimes,” McGinnis said of Peters.

However, enthusiasm for Peters in some parts of the GOP is significant. She has raised $ 158,000 in the eight weeks since announcing her campaign, compared to $ 50,000 from Anderson, who said he had $ 5,000 left in late April. At the Republican Party convention, one of a number of candidates for governor garnered enough votes in the crowd to get a seat in the primary vote, simply promising to pardon Peters in the event of election.

“I agree with what she did. I don’t think she did anything illegal, ”said 67-year-old Pam Atterbeck, an ordained minister who gratefully hit the drum when Peters spoke at a rally before the Denver convention.

Peters flew to the rally along with MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, at whose electoral conspiracy seminar she spoke last year after hacking data into Mesa County election machines. The figures soon surfaced on election conspiracy websites, and Lindell insists it is a testament to the massive international fraud that led to President Joe Biden’s presidency. He told reporters he had paid $ 800,000 to the Peters Legal Protection Fund.

Peters’ legal danger goes beyond accusations of identity theft, attempting to influence an official and impersonating criminal law, presented to a grand jury. She was also arrested after kicking a police officer who tried to hand over a search warrant to her iPad to see if Peters had illegally recorded the trial of a lawmaker accused of burglary and cybercrime.

Supporters of Peters are convinced that she is a martyr for the cause. Even if they can’t accurately explain what Peters claims revealed, they’re sure in 2020 something went wrong.

“I think the reason everyone is attacking her is because she’s in favor of fair elections,” said Adriana Kuva, 45, a volunteer with the Peters candidate who met with Peters. “I believe that the election was rigged. That’s why we see all these problems in our economy. “

This contrasts sharply with the mood at a brothel in the Denver suburb of Littleton, where a small group of Anderson supporters stressed the importance of competent, non-partisan election administration.

“That’s what you want, the one who played it straight,” said Paul Schauer, a former Republican MP.

Anderson grew up in Southern California. Her father was a road patrolman, a member of a long line of law enforcement in the family that instilled in Anderson respect for law enforcement. In 2003, she was elected clerk of the suburban town of Whit Ridge and then the following year in the suburban county.

She has harshly criticized Trump’s election lies since they began in 2020, and is on the board of a nonprofit that distributed $ 350 million in donations from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife to help fund the 2020 election, sparking Conservative suspicions .

“We need to regain our minds,” Anderson said in an interview.

But she also got into the race out of frustration with Democrat Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who she said politicized the Democrats’ office.

And Anderson was disappointed with the way Griswold and other Democrats are attacking Republicans as a party for misinformation about the election. She cites some Republicans who championed the truth and non-partisanship in the election administration. One is Stephen Richard, a clerk in Maricopa County, Arizona, who has strongly opposed a conspiratorial, Trump-backed pseudo-audit of the election.

“There are Republicans across the country fighting for a good fight in the election,” Anderson said.

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