How Jena Griswold, Pam Anderson differ


The incumbent candidate for secretary of state says she believes in being outspoken about election conspiracy theories and fundamental rights across the country, but her GOP opponent says the Democrat is polarizing and not fulfilling the duties of her office.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold, an attorney who once worked in the Obama administration, squared off with Pam Anderson, the former Jefferson County clerk and a business owner, at a debate Tuesday night.

Colorado voters had decidedly rejected election-denier and Mesa County clerk Tina Peters in the GOP primary for secretary of state in June, instead opting to advance Anderson as the Republican candidate for the seat.

“I think a lot of clerks are relieved Tina Peters didn’t win her election,” Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, told The Denver Post earlier this month.

“Her lies, her dishonesty, her illegal behavior, the violation of her oath have had a really catastrophic effect on the public confidence in elections and on election administrators.”

Unlike Peters, Anderson has repeatedly said she believes in the 2020 election results and does not ascribe to the so-called “Big Lie.” But on Tuesday night, Griswold pushed back against Anderson for campaigning with other Republican candidates who do not believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

“The Big Lie is fueling the insider threats,” Griswold said. “The Big Lie is fueling why the county clerk in Chaffee County works behind bulletproof glass. The Big Lie is why election deniers are talking about firebombing dropboxes. Pam, as a candidate for secretary of state, I think it’s inappropriate to campaign with election deniers spreading the Big Lie.”

WATCH: Colorado secretary of state, treasurer candidates debate

The debate was tense at times as Anderson pressed Griswold for what she called her hyperpartisanship of the office and using the investigations into Peters — which Anderson said she supported — as campaign fodder for her re-election. She also accused Griswold of not taking accountability for mistakenly sending out 30,000 postcards to noncitizens reminding people to register to vote. The data error occurred for the second time under Griswold’s tenure (although the postcards noted that only citizens can register to vote).

“Let’s be clear,” Anderson said. “When I made a mistake, I stood up in front of the special district board with my staff. I didn’t use them as a shield for my political career. I took accountability for it. And that’s what leadership is. You stand up when it’s easy and hard.”

The race drew significant attention and money nationally when Peters was in the running for a seat that would not have made much of a public splash in prior years. Although that has since died down and the two Colorado candidates agree on many of the issues at play, it has not prevented what’s going on nationally from remaining part of the discourse.

“Telling the truth isn’t being partisan. It’s telling the truth,” Griswold said.


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