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Former GOP congressional nominee urges Judy Reyher to resign, but newly appointed lawmaker isn’t backing down

Author: Ernest Luning - December 2, 2017 - Updated: December 4, 2017

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Incoming House District 47 state Rep. Judy Reyher, a Swink Republican. (judyhd47.com)State Rep. Judy Reyher, a Swink Republican. She is running for her first full term in the House. (judyhd47.com)

A former Republican congressional nominee called on recently appointed GOP state lawmaker Judy Reyher to step down over social media posts and comments criticizing African Americans, Muslims and others, but a defiant Reyher vowed to fight back against attacks she termed desperate and divisive.

Reyher has come under fire since winning a vacancy appointment Monday to southeast Colorado’s House District 47 seat, replacing former state Rep. Clarice Navarro, a Pueblo Republican, who stepped down last month to take a position with the Trump administration.

“After reading Judy Reyher’s litany of social media posts,” Larimer County Republican Nic Morse tweeted, “I don’t think she has the honorable character required to faithfully represent a house district. Especially one with a large population of Hispanic voters in Pueblo. #copolitics #hd47”

Morse, noting he is Hispanic and grew up near Reyher’s district, meaning he is familiar with the communities, told Colorado Politics on Friday he thinks she should resign and let another vacancy committee fill the seat.

Morse challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis last year and is running next year for the open Senate District 15 seat. He’s facing at least one opponent in a GOP primary for the seat, which is held by term-limited state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.

After a series of Reyher’s Facebook posts came to light — including some questioning former President Barack Obama’s birthplace, another implying African Americans were “hatred filled beings” and “pussies looking for free (stuff),” and one celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of a Confederate flag manufacturer — Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays admonished Reyher, expressing his “displeasure and disagreement in no uncertain terms,” a GOP spokesman said.

But Hays stressed in another statement that he wasn’t the “arbiter of controversial statements, however ridiculous or offensive,” adding that legislators “speak for themselves and their constituents, not for the party.”

Democrats, liberal bloggers and progressive organizations, unsurprisingly, have piled on the criticism, denouncing Reyher’s comments as offensive and racist while blasting the state GOP for tacitly endorsing her message by refusing to ask her to step aside.

In a lengthy statement released Friday, however, Reyher said she was determined to “fight back against the smears,” which she blamed on “hate-filled left-wingers” and “out-of-state groups” spreading hatred to discredit their political opponents. She vowed to “dutifully serve all of my fellow Coloradoans with class and distinction.”

“The people elected a fighter, and I am proud to say I am that fighter,” Reyher said. “I will fight back against the smears, I will fight back against the lies, and moving forward, I will be fighting in Colorado’s capitol as an advocate for more liberty and freedom in our great state.”

Reyher, a former chair of the Otero County GOP, won the vacancy appointment on a 6-5 vote over Pueblo Republican Tamra Axworthy, who has contested the results, asserting that six committee members have told her she had their votes. (A Republican official said the committee was standing by the result after re-canvassing the ballots.)

Reyher won’t take office until at least sometime next week, a state election official told Colorado Politics. The paperwork nominating her to fill the vacancy only arrived at the Colorado secretary of state’s office late Friday afternoon, the official said, and the office has two business days to certify it and send it on to the Legislature before she can be sworn in.

Here’s the entire statement Reyher released Friday:

The people elected a fighter, and I am proud to say I am that fighter. I will fight back against the smears, I will fight back against the lies, and moving forward, I will be fighting in Colorado’s capitol as an advocate for more liberty and freedom in our great state.”

When I decided to run for the vacant seat in House District 47, I fully expected a fight from the very moment I announced my candidacy. Sadly, everything I anticipated has come true. I am here today to inform all the hate-filled left-wingers that I am not backing down and will serve the great people of my district with both distinction and fervor.

In less than a week, Democrats across the entire country have left me dozens of vile and disgusting messages of hate. I would share these, but they are so distasteful they are barely worth dignifying with a response. The far left is so desperate to win my seat that they have concocted a ridiculous narrative of racism and hate. This is straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook and shows the far left’s true colors of divisiveness and hate.

Those who have read the comments can plainly see that my responses were always thorough disgust of the left’s modus operandi in creating a vicious political atmosphere filled with division and strife. With nothing else in my experience to be grasped by them and with emotional immaturity, good Americans long ago came to expect this behavior from a morally bankrupt movement. Out-of-state groups are now using their own hate and vile manners in a blatant attempt to discredit anyone seen in opposition to their liberal position. These attacks are ridiculous, desperate, and I know voters will see through it as more garbage divisiveness.

I am a proud 5th generation Coloradoan and an American who will dutifully serve all of my fellow Coloradoans with class and distinction. My record will reflect those values that we all hold dear. I make this commitment to all of you. I will also be working for all who live in my district. Anything less is a capitulation to the latest ridiculous ploy by the left.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.