Indicted county clerk Tina Peters loses GOP secretary of state primary in Colorado

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Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who was barred from overseeing elections after she was indicted on charges of tampering with election equipment and official misconduct, lost the GOP secretary of state primary in Colorado on Tuesday to former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, NBC News projected.

With more than 80 percent of the expected vote counted, Anderson held a 15-point lead over nonprofit executive Mike O'Donnell and a 17-point lead over Peters. Anderson will face off against Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold later this fall. Griswold’s office has been investigating Peters’ conduct for more than a year.

Peters, an election denier, gained national notoriety after authorities alleged she allowed an unauthorized person to attend a Dominion software installation — what election officials call a trusted build — last May and copied the hard drives of her county’s voting machines. Soon after that incident, data including passwords for the county’s machines were posted online. The machines then had to be replaced.

A Colorado grand jury indicted her on 10 felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from the investigation of those actions, with prosecutors saying she violated her oath of office in the process.

A state judge then barred Peters, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, from overseeing this year’s elections in Mesa County because of her role in the alleged election equipment break-in. She was previously barred from overseeing elections last year.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing in Colorado’s election, which President Joe Biden won by nearly 14 points; it was audited by the state and certified. In her campaign, Anderson, who once was served as president of the state county clerks association, said there was no evidence showing that fraud affected the 2020 results.

Anderson has a page of her campaign website that discredits some election conspiracies, including about voting machines, and she has said she wants to review current state rules on ballot signature verification.

Griswold, in an interview with NBC News, accused Anderson of being an "extremist" who "shifted hard to the right" during the campaign.

"When there is pressure during the next Jan. 6, where is she going to shift?” Griswold added.

Peters is a close ally of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, one of the nation’s most committed influencers advancing former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. Last August, Peters spoke at a voter fraud conference hosted by Lindell in South Dakota. She announced her bid for secretary of state on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast.

“Tina Peters is a hero to this country because she did her job and so did many other county clerks,” Lindell told NBC News earlier this year.

Peters’ defeat marks another loss for promoters of the false voter fraud claims in a GOP secretary of state primary. In Georgia, Nebraska and Idaho, election deniers fell to opponents who did not promote spurious claims of voter fraud or electoral malfeascene.

But there have been some victories. Earlier this month, Jim Marchant, a promoter of the dubious claims, won the Republican primary for secretary of state in Nevada. Earlier this year, Michigan Republicans nominated Kristina Karamo, a poll worker who claimed the 2020 election was a fraud, as their choice for secretary of state.

In Colorado’s gubernatorial primary, businesswoman and University of Colorado Board of Regents member Heidi Ganahl defeated former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, NBC News projected. Ganahl will take on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis this fall.