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

September 14, 2017

Colorado Politics: EMILYs List targets Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Colorado Senate’s Republican majority

By Ernest Luning

EMILYs 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 EMILYs 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 EMILYs 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. EMILYs 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.

EMILYs 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.