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Colorado Political Landscape Altered: Trump Triumphs in Legal Battle and Presidential Primary, Shaping 2024 Election Dynamics

By Raina Lucero

March 8, 2024

Corrected March 25, 2024: Ty Winter has not endorsed Jerry Sonnenberg nor any other candidate in CO4 as was originally stated in this article.

In a decisive ruling on Monday, March 4, the Supreme Court delivered a sweeping victory to former President Donald Trump, upending the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision and allowing him to remain on the state’s Republican primary ballot. The ruling holds significant implications for the 2024 election.

The unanimous decision focused on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars individuals who previously held government positions and later “engaged in insurrection” from running for federal offices. The court emphasized that it is Congress, not states, that holds the authority to enforce this provision against federal office-seekers. This ruling extends beyond Colorado, affecting all states, while states retain the power to bar individuals running for state office under Section 3.

The decision comes at a critical time, just a day before the Colorado primary. Trump celebrated the ruling on social media, declaring it a “Big win for America!!!” The decision not only secures Trump’s place on the Colorado ballot but also brings an end to similar cases in Maine and Illinois, with both states following Colorado’s path.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold expressed disappointment with the decision, highlighting the necessity for Congress to pass authorizing legislation. Griswold acknowledged the challenges posed by a nearly non-functioning Congress, emphasizing that the responsibility now falls on American voters to safeguard democracy in the upcoming November elections. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows swiftly withdrew her determination that Trump’s primary petition was invalid, citing her obligation to follow the law.

Despite the unanimous bottom-line vote, divisions within the 6-3 conservative majority court were evident. The three liberal justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson — expressed concerns that the decision could “insulate” Trump from future controversy, shutting the door on potential means of federal enforcement. Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett agreed that the court went further than necessary, urging against amplifying disagreement in such a politically charged case.

Amidst these legal battles, the Colorado’s presidential primary unfolded on Super Tuesday, March 5 and marked a pivotal moment in the presidential primaries, propelling both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump closer to a potential rematch of their 2020 race. Trump’s landslide victory in Colorado secured 63.3% of Republican ballots cast, significantly advancing him toward the “magic number” needed for the Republican nomination.

Looking to the highly contested Congressional District 4 race, notable developments have emerged. A straw poll was held after a candidate forum in Holyoke, Colorado gave Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg the win. Sonnenberg is endorsed by numerous Colorado County Commissioners and lawmakers as well as farmers and businesspeople. Of those endorsements are Colorado Senator Rod Pelton.

Despite Sonnenberg’s superior polling numbers and numerous endorsements, Lauren Boebert received a notable endorsement from President Donald Trump, which may propel her favorability in the district despite her personal turmoil. Boebert, has come out in the press aggressively condemning Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, going as far as demanding her resignation.

As the candidates approach securing their party nominations, the legal and political landscapes in Colorado continue to evolve, setting the stage for a highly anticipated and closely watched 2024 election. The Supreme Court’s decision has not only shaped the trajectory of Trump’s political future but also has broader implications for the balance between state and federal authority in determining presidential eligibility.

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