“Let’s Go Brandon” — a rhyming stand-in for a four-letter epithet for President Joe Biden — meets the legal standard to be state Rep. Dave Williams’ nickname, but its political nature nonetheless disqualifies its use on the primary election ballot, a Denver judge ruled Wednesday.
Williams is seeking the Republican nomination for the congressional district that covers El Paso County. He sued Secretary of State Jenna Griswold last week to have it included as a nickname on the June primary ballot. He brands his social media accounts as Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams, and even signed the lawsuit as Dave “LGB” Williams.
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 13: Rep. Dave Williams speaks during the 73rd General Assembly of the Colorado State Legislature on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Williams is seeking the Republican nomination for the congressional district that covers El Paso County. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
While state law allows candidates to include nicknames in quotes on election ballots, it can’t include any part of a political party name. Griswold denied it initially on political grounds.
“Let’s Go Brandon” became a slogan in some corners of conservative politics after NASCAR driver Brandon Brown said a vulgar chant directed at Biden was actually the crowd cheering for him. It’s since been sold on hats, T-shirts and flags and heard chanted at Republican events.
“The court’s decision today affirms that the content of the ballot is not a place for political gamesmanship,” Griswold said in a statement. “As Secretary of State, I will always protect Colorado voters’ right to accessible elections and that includes a ballot that is fair and transparent. My Office will continue to uphold Colorado Election law and safeguard voters’ right to make their voice heard.”
Williams said he plans to appeal the decision, and said lawmakers should take action if the Colorado Supreme Court doesn’t hear the case.
“The judge agreed it was a genuine nickname in accordance with state law, but ultimately made the wrong decision,” Williams said in a text message after the ruling. “The corrupt SOS doesn’t get to take power for herself while violating the rule of law. We demand the Colorado Supreme Court do its job by hearing this appeal, and if they don’t then lawmakers should take away their salaries or move to term them out of office.”
Friday is the deadline for the Secretary of State to deliver the primary ballot’s order and content to county clerks. The ballots must be printed and in possession of the county clerks by May 28, and they start being mailed out June 6.
Williams is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn for the Republican nomination for El Paso County congressional seat. Williams is running to the incumbent’s right in the deeply red district.
In a speech to secure a spot on the June 28 primary ballot, Williams singled out the three-term congressman as someone to vote for if delegates want to “keep the establishment and the status quo, where nothing gets accomplished and our values are constantly undermined,” according to Colorado Politics.