3rd Congressional District: Republican Ron Hanks

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
(File photo) Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks, a candidate for U.S. Senate, at the Colorado Republican State Assembly Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Former state Rep. Republican Ron Hanks was elected in 2020 to represent Fremont, Teller and Custer counties in the House, after retiring from a long career in the U.S Air Force. According to his biography on the Colorado House Republicans’ website, Hanks served in Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror, working as a linguist and intelligence officer.

During his single House term, Hanks sponsored bills to allow concealed carry without a permit, create tax credits for parents who enroll their children in private school and significantly change the voting system. None of the six bills for which he was the main sponsor were signed into law.

Hank’s time as a lawmaker also involved several controversies. Before taking office it came out that Hanks had attended the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C., though Hanks said he did not participate in storming the U.S. Capitol. During a discussion on a bill about civics education, he said the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for government allocation purposes, “was not impugning anybody’s humanity.” He also reportedly threatened then-Republican Leader Hugh McKean during an evening caucus meeting in 2021.

Hanks moved to the third district earlier this year, after Congresswoman Boebert’s exit from the race, in order to compete for her seat. He won enough support at the district assembly to qualify for the primary ballot, but just missed out on the top line. This is not his first run for Congress. Hanks made a bid for the GOP Senate nomination in 2022, losing the primary to Republican Joe O’Dea. He also made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House when he lived in California in 2010.

In this run he’s been endorsed by the Colorado GOP (which changed its rules recently to allow the party to endorse candidates in contested races) and former hard right congressman Tom Tancredo. He also signed a pledge to the state Libertarian Party to pursue its priorities in return for the Libertarian candidate in the race withdrawing if Hanks is the nominee.

Varela spoke to CPR News about his position on the issues that are most important to voters in the district.

On democracy and good governance

“Good governance to me is limited government,” Hanks told CPR News, “and what we have now is the furthest from limited government we've ever had.”

Hanks describes the federal government as weaponized and out-of-control when it comes to spending. ‘Weaponized’ is also the word he used for the Department of Justice in the wake of former president Trump’s fraud conviction (Trump was tried in state, not federal, court).

Throughout his political career, Hanks has been a strong advocate for false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. 

“I have no confidence in the 2020 election. I have limited or no confidence in 2022. And frankly, I don't think enough has changed in 2024 nationwide that I have confidence in it,” said Hanks.During his time in the legislature, Hanks tried unsuccessfully to return Colorado to all in-person voting with strict ID requirements, require special, supposedly ‘fraud-proof’ paper for ballots, and have all ballots counted, by hand, within 24 hours of an election.

On the economy and cost of living

Hanks said energy and transportation costs are driving most of the inflation and supply shortages that have continued in the U.S since the pandemic. If elected he said the first thing he would do to lower prices is try to get to energy independence by boosting North American oil and gas development.

“I would encourage President Trump to reinstate the Keystone pipeline and let's get oil flowing,” said Hanks. “It's a fungible asset, of course, throughout the world, but we need to have it flowing from the United States.”

On immigration

Hanks has called the situation at the southern border an ‘invasion’ and defended Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to send Texas National Guard troops to turn away immigrants from crossing at Eagle Pass. In a letter to supporters, Hanks wrote that “Other states offering their National Guard manpower and skillsets on Texas soil is an encouraging development of states banding together against a hostile federal government with suspect motives and policies in direct opposition to the will of the American people.”

In the same letter, Hanks said there is no need for additional legislation to address the immigration situation — a reference to the bipartisan border deal scuttled by House Republicans. Hanks told CPR the immigration problem can be solved the minute President Biden is out of office.

“Donald Trump, with the stroke of a pen, can reassert control over the borders and the access points and the federal departments that are right now doing a catch-and-release,” said Hanks. “He can get the border patrol to close the borders and turn people back.” 

Hanks also wants to finish the construction of the wall at the southern border and that the government should “prepare for significant deportation operations.”