Politics

Meet Michael Bennet's GOP Opponents — Including One Who Hates Office Equipment

A screen capture from a campaign video in which state representative Ron Hanks shoots a photocopier standing in for a voting machine.
A screen capture from a campaign video in which state representative Ron Hanks shoots a photocopier standing in for a voting machine. hanksforcolorado.com
U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Michael Bennet is running for re-election in 2022, and six Republicans and an independent have already lined up to challenge him for his seat. While most are little known to the public at large, they're a vibrant batch — including state representative Ron Hanks, who released a campaign video on October 6 in which he uses a high-powered weapon to murder a copy machine.

The photocopier is a stand-in for technology from Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based company that people still propagating the fiction that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election blame for throwing the vote to Joe Biden. Hanks, whose district includes Cañon City, is a proud promoter of this fact-free mindset.

Office equipment homicide may seem like an idiotic way to be taken seriously as a major candidate. But there's a certain crazy strategy behind such displays. Colorado Republicans don't have a very deep bench, and are definitely lacking in rising stars ready for prime time. But Lauren Boebert managed to make her way to Congress in part because of her flamboyant, gat-happy persona; the waitresses at her diner in Rifle pack heat. So don't be surprised if more of these hopefuls start pulling stunts along the lines of Hanks's latest. After all, it's a lot easier to get attention for gunning down a copier than it is to come up with conservative policies with wide appeal in an increasingly blue state.

Here's an introduction to Bennet's seven rivals to date, including links to their websites — with one notable exception.


Ron Hanks

The quote atop Hanks's campaign site doesn't pussyfoot around, opting for the sort of bellicose vernacular that somehow hasn't gone out of style despite the January 6 insurrection. "As my proven conservative record in the Colorado Legislature shows, I will fight — front and center — for limited government, lower taxes, and personal liberties," he states. "Government must be constrained by our Constitution. One radical party controls Washington and Colorado today. I will fight for regular Coloradans to restore balance and stop out-of-control politicians in Denver and Washington, D.C.."

The three pillars of his platform? "RESTORE Election Integrity and the Rule of Law against radical socialist insiders," "PROTECT Our economy and personal liberty against out-of-control government," and "ADVANCE The will of the people against corrupt politicians in BOTH parties."

Here's that Hanks campaign video:
Erik Aadland

Aadland labels himself a "Proud Republican Protecting Your Rights." Born into an Army family, he graduated from high school in Germany before attending West Point. He subsequently served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, for which he was awarded two Bronze Stars.
click to enlarge A portrait of Erik Aadland. - AADLANDFORCOLORADO.COM
A portrait of Erik Aadland.
In 2011, Aadland left the Army to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry, eventually becoming project manager regarding off-shore construction of the so-called Leviathan Project in Dor, Israel. But he left that gig in 2020 in order to complete a master's degree in psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute prior to dedicating himself to "the political arena."

"The country’s future is imperiled by a corrupt establishment," Aadland contends, and he intends to counter this scenario by way of "putting our country first," "protecting the rights of the individual," boosting the economy ("Leftist big government policies are throttling the economy and de-incentivizing people from working," he contends), and "protecting our environment" while ensuring the primacy of the fossil-fuels business. "Strangling Oil and Natural Gas production is reflected in the price of gasoline at the pump," his website proclaims.
click to enlarge Eli Bremer and family. - ELIFORSENATE.COM
Eli Bremer and family.
Eli Bremer

Like Aadland, Eli Bremer is a military veteran; he served fourteen years as a commissioned officer with the U.S. Air Force. But he's also a former Olympian; he competed in the modern pentathlon at the 2008 games in Beijing, finishing in 22nd place. Since then, he's offered commentary for NBC during four Olympics, served as a "global spokesman and consultant for Shaklee Corporation," and "routinely advises small startup businesses."

Bremer founded the El Paso County Young Professional Republicans group in 2009. He was subsequently elected the El Paso County GOP chair and worked on two presidential campaigns in 2016 — first for Jeb Bush, later for Donald Trump. He's currently an El Paso County commissioner.

His policy page contends that "it's time to bring common sense back to Washington." He's for "protecting women's rights," stating that this "should not be a partisan issue." But in his reference to "Biden and progressives" changing "the definition of 'woman' to a point where we risk having a legal definition that is unsustainable nor understandable," he's talking about his stance against allowing trans athletes to compete in female events. He's also pro-gun, having shot one in the Olympics, and stresses that "we must stop unbridled illegal border crossings and instead create a process that allows those who possess skills or abilities and a desire to be a productive part of the American dream to come legally. Notably, Eli has personally assisted with the immigration of individuals to the US and who are now working in support of our military."
click to enlarge A Colorado-centric photo of Juli Henry. - VOTEJULIHENRYFORCOLORADO.COM
A Colorado-centric photo of Juli Henry.
Juli Henry

"I am a Colorado wife, mother, Army veteran, and a Republican," Henri maintains on her rather spare website. "More importantly, I am an American, and I know that nothing will change if we ourselves do not enact the action necessary to improve our community. I never imagined myself having to go to such lengths to fight for my rights and the rights instilled in every American, but if it means providing more people the opportunity for prosperity, I am willing to stake my name and wellbeing to ensure such matters."

She emphasizes that "I have dedicated my entire life to community service, and wish to see everyone — regardless of their political affiliation — treated with equal respect and opportunity. This wish of mine is not uncommon, as I am sure we all wish to see the betterment of every person. But unfortunately we have been divided against each other, forced to pick a side, and ultimately finding ourselves in a constant debate between who is right and who is wrong. The entire nation is a victim of this, and Colorado is no different."

According to Henry, "I believed the best way to resolve this issue was to serve my country. It didn’t work. I started my own nonprofit to assist those who needed more help than me. It didn’t work. Politics is nothing more than a game, consisting of players who give us false truths, and balance their self-interests with that of their own. And now, after seeing all the pain that we have suffered, have concluded that the only way for real action is to play their silly game, with the intention of creating a positive change: for my family, my community, and my state."

The site doesn't include a breakdown of Henry's policy positions beyond these two words: "Save Colorado."
click to enlarge Peter Yu smiles for the camera. - YUFORSENATE.COM
Peter Yu smiles for the camera.
Peter Yu

In 2018, Yu ran unsuccessfully for the congressional post won by Joe Neguse. He notes that "as a first generation immigrant, I am thankful to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world. My parents and my six brothers and sisters came to the United States in 1969 and despite living the majority of our early lives in poverty, our entire family is an American success story. Five of seven children received college degrees and today all seven children have successful careers and are living a life that is only possible in America!"

The youngest sibling in his family, Yu graduated from Fort Lewis College with a business degree that helped him land sales and marketing jobs with firms such as Wyndham Worldwide and HSBC Bank. "Through my experiences, I continue to work with individuals, small businesses and corporations to achieve great success and strong financial results," he allows.

His mission statement reads: "The United States of America is about opportunities! This country was created by our founding fathers who decided that there is nothing the government can do for us that we cannot do ourselves. America is a free nation and all citizens in this great nation have liberties and rights that allow them to pursue the life that is only available in the greatest country in the world. As a candidate for United States Senate, my mission is to assure that we do not impose government will on the citizens of this great nation and that we instead maintain a system where endless opportunities are created for those who want a better life."

His top issues are health care, the environment, energy, the national debt, and immigration and border security.
click to enlarge Gino Campana caught in a pose. - GINOFORSENATE.COM
Gino Campana caught in a pose.
Gino Campana

Campana's website characterizes him as "a father, coach, builder, entrepreneur and first generation American who has lived the American dream." An Italian native who grew up in Fort Collins, he graduated from Colorado State University with a civil engineering degree and soon began buying houses, fixing them up and reselling them for a profit — a precursor to his present career assembling "large multifamily projects and residential developments."

In 2013, Campana ran for the Fort Collins City Council, where he continues to hold office. He also chaired the Larimer County Republican Party and notes that he "was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve on the Public Buildings Reform Board." He also acknowledges that he was "asked by the Obama Administration to serve on projects such as ‘It’s on Us’ — a national initiative to end sexual assault and domestic violence."

From a policy standpoint, Campana promotes what he dubs "responsible economics intended to rein in out-of-control federal spending and keep taxes low so job creators can do what they do best." He also tiptoes into "Stop the Steal" territory, with his site proclaiming that "One illegal vote is one too many. Gino believes our elections, the foundation of our republic, need to be the safest and most secure in the world. Gino believes in safe and secure elections that allow every American to vote legally. He does not support the massive federal takeover of elections proposed in Washington DC and is firmly against taxpayer funds being used for political attack ads."

The website adds that "extremist politicians like Senator Michael Bennet who support late term abortions should have no place in Washington DC. Gino is a lifelong Catholic who will never vote to allow taxpayer dollars to go towards funding abortions."

Aaron Trevino

If Aaron Trevino has a campaign website, or even a Facebook page devoted to his quest, we haven't been able to find it. His Ballotpedia page doesn't include a photo and contains no information beyond his affiliation as an independent. So we don't know how he feels about products made by Xerox.

This post has been updated to include a section on Gino Campana.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts