Republican Pam Anderson launches bid to unseat Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold

Republican Pam Anderson, former Jefferson County clerk and recorder, and past director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, announced her candidacy for Colorado’s Secretary of State in the 2022 midterm election.

A former Jefferson County clerk and recorder and past director of the Colorado County Clerks Association is running to unseat Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold. 

Republican Pam Anderson says she hopes to make the office less political and focus on reassuring voters of all political stripes that Colorado’s election system is safe and secure. 

“Now is the time to reinstill trust and move away from the political rhetoric,” Anderson told CPR News. “I think we have the best system in the country.”

Anderson believes that the 2020 general election outcome was accurate and fair, despite other members of her party questioning the results. She currently runs an election consulting company.

She’s so far the only Republican to launch a run for this office in next year’s midterm election. She first announced her campaign on George Brauchler’s KNUS political talk radio show on Saturday. 

Griswold, the current secretary of state, has staunchly defended the state’s mail-in ballot system. In a statement following Anderson’s campaign launch, she said she was proud of the work she has done since taking office in 2019. 

“Under my leadership, we expanded access to voting, increased election security and oversaw record-breaking elections during the pandemic,” Griswold said. “And when anti-democratic forces have tried to suppress the vote, I have stopped them.” 

The secretary of state’s office is often described as Colorado’s top election official, overseeing a statewide voter registration database and creating new rules around how the state’s elections are run. Vote counting happens at the county level. 

Leading up to last year’s presidential election, Griswold drew criticism from some local clerks for her frequent tweets and appearances on cable news programs, where she regularly pointed out what she saw as former President Donald Trump’s “failings.”

“I will always push back against what I see as undemocratic, very troubling tactics, and that would be true whether it was a Democratic president or a Republican president,” Griswold told CPR News at the time.

Her office recently won a lawsuit barring Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, a Republican, from overseeing the upcoming Nov. 2 election. The legal action came in response to Peters’ alleged role in a security breach around an upgrade to the county’s Dominion Voting Systems election equipment earlier his year. 

Anderson called Peters’ actions “disappointing.” 

“I think any election official or any person that wants to run for these offices needs to know that this is a real job with real obligations and real duties under the law,” Anderson said. 

Anderson criticized some of Griswold’s public comments during her tenure, saying she feels election officials in Colorado and across the country should tamp down on “hyper-partisan rhetoric aimed at boosting one’s profile.” 

“I think that hurts voters,” Anderson said. “I think voters of all partisan persuasions expect more from that office.” 

Griswold explored a run for higher office earlier in her term, according to public campaign contribution filings, but decided against it. 

“No matter who enters this race, I will always be laser focused on delivering results for Colorado voters,” Griswold said. 

Anderson said she isn’t concerned about winning support from Republicans during the June 2022 primaries. She plans to focus her campaign around challenging misinformation and educating voters about how elections work. 

“I think that Republicans across the spectrum in Colorado, Unaffiliated voters and Democrats want to hear from someone who knows what they're doing,” Anderson said. “They want someone who knows the facts and isn’t interested in political gain or trying to scare the public.” 

Bente Birkeland and Ben Markus contributed reporting.