EMILY’s List targets Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Colorado Senate’s Republican majority

Author: Ernest Luning - September 14, 2017 - Updated: September 13, 2017

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, speaks at the Capitol on April 21, 2016. (Photo by John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, speaks at the Capitol on April 21, 2016. (Photo by John Tomasic/The Colorado Statesman)

EMILY’s List, a national group that recruits and helps fund Democratic women candidates, said Thursday it’s putting Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams and GOP state senators “on notice,” naming them to its list of top targets for defeat in next year’s election.

The group charged that Williams has “failed to defend” Coloradans against a White House commission on election fraud that asked for state voter records earlier this summer. Senate Republicans, who hold the majority in the chamber by a single seat, come under fire for “pushing a shameful agenda that turns back the clock on women’s rights,” a spokeswoman said.

The group said it’s ramping up efforts at the state and local levels ahead of redistricting following the 2020 Census at the same time an unprecedented number of women have contacted organizers about running for office.

“Williams betrayed voters’ trust and handed over sensitive voter information to (President) Trump’s sham voting commission,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Emily Cain in a statement. “This sort of blind allegiance to a leader who has repeatedly shown terrible and reckless judgement is why EMILY’s List is recruiting an historic number of strong, pro-choice Democratic women leaders in 2018 to ensure that voters in Colorado have a champion as secretary of state — not a Trump patsy.”

Williams submitted voter data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in early August after a month of heated controversy — including more than 5,000 Colorado voters withdrawing their registration. In June, Williams said he planned to fulfill the commission’s request by providing the same public information that would be available to anyone who asks, stressing he would withhold data considered confidential, such as precise birthdates and any part of a voter’s Social Security number.

Three Democrats are vying for the nomination to take on Williams, a former El Paso County clerk and recorder seeking a second term. His potential challengers include attorney Jena Griswold and Bernie Sanders supporter Gabriel McArthur. Phillip Villard has also filed paperwork to run.

Denver Director of Elections Amber McReynolds has said she’s considering a run, although she’s registered unaffiliated. “I am considering any and all opportunities I have to continue to create innovative solutions to better serve voters and citizens in a fair and accessible way, free from partisan politics,” she told Colorado Politics.

Cain pointed to failing grades received by every Republican senator on key issues from abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado.

“These legislators have introduced legislation to make ultrasounds mandatory for patients seeking an abortion, and voted against allowing women more convenient, long-term access to contraceptives,” Cain said. EMILY’s List, she added, was recruiting candidates “to hold these Republican legislators accountable for their out-of-touch agenda.”

The group added U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton to its “on notice” list in July, charging that the two Republican incumbents have poor records on issues important to women.

EMILY’s List — the acronym originally stood for “Early Money is Like Yeast,” said to “help raise the dough” — has raised more than $500 million for candidates it’s supported since its founding in 1985, the group says. It claims it’s helped elect 116 women to the U.S. House, 23 women to the U.S. Senate and 12 governors.

Earlier this year, the group endorsed former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy in Colorado’s gubernatorial race and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, in a primary in the 7th Congressional District. Pettersen withdrew from the congressional race after the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, said he would seek reelection instead of retiring from Congress. On Tuesday, Pettersen announced she’s running for a state Senate seat currently held by a term-limited Democrat.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.