A Colorado Republican looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in June’s GOP primary can’t use the nickname “Let’s Go Brandon” — a right-wing Joe Biden insult — on the ballot, a state judge has ruled.
The candidate, state Rep. Dave Williams, appealed the ruling to the state’s highest court on Thursday, contending it “presents an important issue of consequence,” namely, the “scope of the secretary of state’s authority to disallow nicknames on the ballot.”
Williams uses the phrase — a euphemism for a vulgar reference to Biden — as a nickname on his Twitter account and on campaign mailings, and also used it in the caption of his court filing challenging the secretary of state’s determination that he could not use the phrase on the ballot.
While nicknames can be allowed on ballots in Colorado if it’s one the candidate regularly uses, Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office determined Williams couldn’t identify himself there as Dave “Let’s go Brandon” Williams because the phrase is a slogan, not a nickname.
The phrase first became popular in some right-wing circles in October of last year, after some fans at a NASCAR race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama began to chant an expletive about the president. The chants were ongoing as an NBC Sports reporter interviewed NASCAR driver Brandon Brown after his victory, and said, “You can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s Go Brandon!’”
In court filings, Williams said he started using the phrase as a nickname in December.
In a ruling Wednesday, Denver District Judge Andrew McCallin found that while Williams had used the name as a nickname, Griswold’s reasoning was sound, and he denied Williams’ petition.
In their appeal Thursday, Williams’ lawyers contended McCallin’s ruling should be overturned because the law doesn’t have a “campaign slogan” exception.
The secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the appeal, but Griswold, a Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday that McCallin’s decision “affirms that the content of the ballot is not a place for political gamesmanship. As secretary of state, I will always protect Colorado voters’ right to accessible elections and that includes a ballot that is fair and transparent.”
Williams, meanwhile, blasted the decision on Wednesday, saying, “It’s clear that a Democrat appointed judge put his thumb on the scale for a corrupt Democrat secretary of state.”
He also took aim at the state’s high court, saying, “If the Colorado Supreme Court doesn’t hear this appeal, then they are derelict in their duty and lawmakers should remove their salaries or move to term them out of office without delay.”
The primary is scheduled for June 28. Williams is one of three candidates vying to replace Lamborn, a Republican who’s running for a ninth term in the deep-red district.