Colorado voters share sense of unease after court disqualifies Trump

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Behind the celebrations and condemnations of the Colorado Supreme Court's decision that removed former President Donald J. Trump from the primary on Tuesday was a sense among the state's voters that it was just a prelude to the rancor to come.

Whether for or against the ruling, many voters said they were uncomfortable with the prospect of months of campaigning that would bounce between the courts and the campaign trail.

“I think it disenfranchises voters,” said Jeremy Loew, a veteran defense attorney in Colorado Springs who described himself as a progressive who had never voted for Trump. “Our entire system is based on people running for public office and letting the voters decide.”

“We can't just throw people out of the polls because they've been accused of something,” he added.

In its 4-3 decision Tuesday, Colorado's high court ruled that Trump had participated in an insurrection prior to the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol and was ineligible to run in the state's Republican primary.

For some left-wing voters in the state, that result was welcome.

Richard McClain, a 37-year-old repair technician who lives in Erie, Colorado, and who voted for President Biden in 2020, said he thought Trump “deserved it.”

“He made an insurrection,” McClain said. “He clearly incited those people.”

State Republicans treated the decision with disdain, describing it as an undemocratic move by a court with a liberal majority.

“I am in shock. “I'm really shocked,” said Chen Koppelman, 72, a lawyer and retired teacher in Denver. “Deciding that we don't have the right to vote for whoever we want for president of the United States? Excuse me.”

Randy Loyd, owner of an audio and video design company, called the decision “ridiculous.”

“Our country is a disaster in many ways,” he said at the Cherry Creek shopping center in Denver, as Christmas carols played in the background. “The only hope we have is that Trump comes back. It's totally political that the Colorado Supreme Court did that.”

But the decision also laid bare deep divisions and turmoil in the state's Republican Party.

One of the petitioners in the case, former Colorado House and Senate Republican Majority Leader Norma Anderson, said in a statement Tuesday that she was “proud” to have participated in the case that disqualified Trump.

“My fellow plaintiffs and I brought this case to continue protecting the right to free and fair elections enshrined in our Constitution and to ensure that Colorado's Republican primary voters only vote for eligible candidates,” he said. “Today's victory does just that.”

Before the ruling, Dave Williams, who chairs a state Republican Party that often seems at war with itself, had warned ominously about the impossibility of resolving differences through the ballot box. “It will be a civil war,” he said last month. “No one wants a civil war.”

On Tuesday, Williams said he was confident the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the ruling.

Other voters said they were exhausted by the partisan attacks and saw little to like on either side.

While waiting for a table at a restaurant in Lafayette, Colorado, on a pleasant afternoon, Tyler Chambers, 27, made it clear that even before Tuesday's ruling, he was not impressed by the current slate of candidates.

“There has to be a better candidate than Donald Trump or Joe Biden,” said Chambers, a wildland firefighter who lives in the nearby Denver suburb of Westminster.

The State Supreme Court's decision was the first in the country to determine that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies people who participate in an insurrection against the Constitution after taking an oath to support it, applied to Mr. Trump. Democrats applauded the idea that courts in other states could do the same.

At the same time, there was a widespread feeling that Colorado would not have the final say on the matter.

Erin Trendler, a public school occupational therapist who lives in the Denver suburb of Louisville, said she was “100 percent” in favor of Tuesday's ruling. “Colorado has taken a stand,” she said. “I hope other states follow her lead.”

But he anticipated that the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the decision.

And Tuesday's decision appeared to do little to alleviate the stress and apprehension that many voters said they felt about the election, now less than a year away.

“I hope the country is strong enough to overcome this crisis in our democracy,” said Arthur Greene, 74.

Kathi Patrick, a 55-year-old construction operations manager from Broomfield, north of Denver, took a moment after dinner with friends to say Tuesday's decision changed little for her.

“There's so much anger in the country right now that we're all dealing with, and this just perpetuates all that anger,” he said.

“No one is going to be happy.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Kelley Manley contributed with reports.



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