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Dave Williams, chairman of Colorado GOP, announces bid to replace Doug Lamborn in Congress

Williams plans to remain as chairman during his congressional bid. The former state representative tried to oust Lamborn in 2022, but his primary bid fell well short
Colorado Republican Party chair candidate Dave Williams speaks during a debate for the state Republican Party leadership position Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in a pizza restaurant in Hudson, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Dave Williams, the divisive chairman of the Colorado GOP, announced Monday that he will run to replace U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the state’s 5th Congressional District and that he will remain in his party leadership position during his campaign.

Lamborn, who lives in Colorado Springs, shocked the political world Friday when he said that he wouldn’t run for reelection this year to a 10th term in Congress. The 5th District, which is entirely in El Paso County, is a Republican stronghold and Lamborn has had a vise grip on the seat for nearly two decades.

Williams, a former state representative who also lives in Colorado Springs, tried to oust Lamborn in 2022, but his primary bid fell well short. Lamborn fended off Williams by 14 percentage points in an acrimonious race during which Williams tried and failed to persuade the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office to bring charges against Lamborn over an attack ad.

“I’m 100% pro-life, 100% pro-Second Amendment and have never voted for a tax or spending increase,” Williams said in an email announcing his campaign. “I know that corrupt establishment politicians in both parties are to blame for the mess our country is in. Authentic Christian leadership means serving others above self and not letting failed, say-anything politicians in Washington D.C. get away with taking citizens for a ride.”

Williams was elected chairman in March 2023, beating out several other candidates. His term ends in early 2025.

In an email to members of the Colorado GOP on Monday morning, Williams sought to reassure Republicans that he could both campaign and serve as chairman at the same time.

“As our state party bylaws allow, I will remain as chairman through the course of the primary election where we will continue our work of rebuilding party infrastructure, preparing for caucus and assemblies, continuing our important lawsuit battles to keep President Trump on the ballot and overturn the open primary, and exposing out-of-touch Democrats for being radical and corrupt,” Williams wrote. “The party and its leaders will ensure fairness and transparency while avoiding any conflicts of interest as more competitors enter the CD5 race.”

Williams won’t be the first person to serve as chairman and run for office at the same time.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck did just that when he served as chairman from 2019 through early 2021. The big difference, however, was that Buck was an incumbent.

Williams will be presiding over the party as he likely runs against other Republicans to represent the 5th District.

A fierce Trump ally, Williams is a controversial figure. He has embraced Trump’s 2020 election conspiracies and used his position as chairman to attack fellow Republicans he doesn’t believe are conservative enough, including Lamborn.

As chairman, he has struggled to fundraise for the party and attacked his predecessor, Kristi Burton Brown.

Williams also faced criticism for working as a full-time legislative aide for Republican state Rep. Brandi Bradley last year while simultaneously serving as chairman. He stepped down from his job in September after earning tens of thousands of dollars in wages and benefits.

In the legislature, Williams was known as a rabble rouser, unafraid to clash with both Democrats and members of his own party.

Other Republicans are expected to run to represent the 5th District in the coming days, possibly including former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who ran unsuccessfully last year to be mayor of Colorado Springs.

Eli Bremer, a former chair of the El Paso County GOP who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2022, is also eyeing the race.

Colorado’s congressional primary elections will be held on June 25.

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