“The big guy” talks about elections issues with Jon Caldara

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Jon Caldara, president of the right-leaning Independence Institute, discussed a range of election topics during a recent appearance together, from the Russians to the impact of a measure that allows unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections without declaring to be a Republican or a Democrat.

Williams appeared on Caldara’s show, Devil’s Advocate, which was taped last week and airs at 8:30 tonight on Colorado Public Television Channel 12.  (Update: Here’s the link to the show.)

“We’re going to have open primaries, which is crazy to me but the law is the law and now unaffiliated candidates will be able to vote in any primary,” Caldara said, referring to Propositions 107 and 108, which voters passed a year ago. “So if I’m a registered Republican, at this point why bother? You can just be unaffiliated and get both ballots.”

Williams pointed out that more than 90 percent of candidates get on the ballot through the caucus and assembly process. And in some places with lopsided registration — GOP- dominated El Paso County or Democratic-laden Denver — that process can determine who wins in November.

“So there’s still a very good reason to be affiliated and participate,” he said.

Williams was opposed to a proposal allowed under Proposition 108 that allowed Republicans to cancel their primary so unaffiliated voters would be shut out and instead have party insiders pick the nominees. That idea recently failed.

Former GOP state chairman Dick Wadhams and Secretary of State Wayne Williams during a debate Sept. 22 at the Republicans’ Centennial Dinner. Both opposed of opting out of primaries to prevent unaffiliated voters from electing nominees. (SOS photo)

Caldara also brought up the clamor over the White House’s request for publicly available voter data.

“I want to know why you’re selling my personal private information to a fascist like Trump and I need you to stop it right away! I’m very upset!”  Caldara said. “For those who don’t know, I’m joking, this is the biggest nothing burger I’ve ever heard of.”

Williams said he could understand the concern from average Coloradans who were unaware their addresses, year of birth and which elections they voted in — but not how they voted — are public record. But he said he was bothered by those who knew that for decades, candidates and campaigns have purchased voter lists and used them to call voters, knock on their doors and mail them literature.

“If you’ve used that list yourself and then you say the secretary shouldn’t give it to people you disagree with, that’s a very dangerous road to go down,” Williams said. “You get into crony favoritism where the secretary of state only gives it to people they like to an affect a particular agenda and if you don’t agree with me I don’t give you the list. That’s a very dangerous thing with public information.”

The show opened with Caldara still in a bit of shock that the staff required him to sit on a pillow so he wouldn’t look so diminutive next to Williams.

“Eighteen years I’ve been doing this,” Caldara said. “Nobody has ever put a pillow under my rear end for a show, except you’re like 6 foot 8 or something.”

Apparently the camera does add some heft because Williams is 6-foot-4. (Tim Wieland, the news director of CBS 4, once called Williams “Gigantor” after his producers had the secretary standing next the news desk for a morning show, instead of being seated.)

“Well, it’s in the torso but it’s deceptive,” Williams told Caldara. “It takes a big guy to do what needs to be done sometimes.”

Staffer Julia Sunny contributed to this report.