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Handful of candidates respond to survey about political extremism

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Jun 17, 2022 Updated Jul 21, 2023

A local nonprofit group trying to push against extremism and vitriol in politics got less than half of the primary candidates running for state and local elections to respond to a questionnaire.

The group, Restore the Balance, sent eight questions to the candidates that focused on such topics as how they would find common ground with political opponents to whether they believed the 2020 election was somehow stolen.

“Many voters have expressed the desire to support candidates who will work to reject extremism and return compromise, balance and sanity to politics,” he said. “We hope that the (questionnaire) serves to identify those candidates that best exemplify (Restore the Balance) principles.” Of the 18 candidates for such races as the 3rd Congressional District, statewide offices and county positions, only seven responded by the group’s June 8 deadline, two days after ballots were mailed to voters.

The candidates who did respond include Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose; Mesa County clerk GOP candidate Bobbie Gross; Mesa County Sheriff Todd Rowell, a Republican; House District 55 candidate Rick Taggart, a Republican; GOP Secretary of State candidate Michael O’Donnell; and Alex Walker and Adam Frisch, two Democratic candidates for the 3rd CD. “I will be a vocal champion of common sense in D.C. and use my skills with younger demographics to get commonsense legislation — rather than extremism — onto the floor and signed into law,” Walker answered in a question about reducing gridlock.

“While there are a group of elected officials on both sides of the aisle who are focused merely on the performative and divisive aspects of politics, there are many more who want to work together in passing legislation for their constituents,” Frisch added. “As I drive around western Colorado and visit with constituents, I notice a lot of flags and bumper stickers supporting the Three Percenters and QAnon. These radical organizations are rooted in extremism that does not hold any promise for democracy.” Coram wrote that voters are tired not only of gridlock, but a blind adherence to partisan politics that some existing elected officials practice on both sides of the aisle, naming U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, his opponent in the June 28 GOP primary, as an example. “Americans are frustrated and angry, and they have been that way for awhile,” he wrote in response to a question about anti-government sentiment.

“Instead of bringing a sense of calm and steady leadership to ease the frustration, representatives in Washington like Lauren Boebert have poured gasoline on the fire,” he added. “They have preyed on the worst of humanity for their benefit. This behavior has to stop. We must change the culture of Congress.”

Five of the candidates said Joe Biden was legitimately elected president, and denounced as insurrection what took place on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. O’Donnell, however, did so grudgingly and Rowell didn’t answer at all, saying politics plays no role in law enforcement. “There were likely bad actors involved in instigating some of the less peaceful protests that occurred in Washington, D.C.,” O’Donnell wrote. “Riots, looting, fire-bombings and at least 25 murders that occurred during the summer protests of 2020 occasioned much more deep-seated damage to the underlying fabric of the United States than the protests on January 6th, 2021.”

The 2020 riots that O’Donnell referred to were spurred by the murder of George Floyd and other similar deaths of blacks by law enforcement nationwide.

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