Lia Thomas problem could be key to turning Colorado red, says former Olympian Senate candidate
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Colorado statewide races have tended to be Democratic since 2006, with the sole exception of Cory Gardner’s US Senate victory in 2014, but a Republican Senate candidate this year told Fox News Digital that the issue of transgender sports — best characterized by NCAA swimming champion Lia Thomas — may prove vital in turning this mostly blue state red in the 2022 midterm elections.
Eli Bremer, a former Olympian who joined the U.S. Olympic Committee’s reform effort in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, said the issue of transgender sports could upend the rhetoric of “war on women” of the Democrats. He faulted Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., for not getting involved in the effort to pass the reform bill S.2330although Bennet serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus. A spokesperson for Bennet’s U.S. Senate office disputed the claim that Bennet did insufficiently fight for women after the Nassar scandal, noting that Bennet voted (in a voice vote) for S. 2330 and pointing to a separate bill that the senator co-sponsored at the time.
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“It’s a deadly problem for Michael Bennett because historically Democrats have said Republicans are the ones who don’t stand up for women, but the tables are completely reversed now,” Bremer told Fox News Digital. “I’m a Republican who helped lead efforts to end sex abuse at the Olympics, and now I’m leading this issue.”
“Michael Bennett refuses to be with women,” added the Republican. “That could be a defining issue in the November election.”
Bennett supports HR 5, The Equality Act, which extends federal civil rights protections to people who identify as transgender, including in the area of sports. He commemorated Transgender Awareness Day last week.
Bremer described the issue of transgender identity as a “tsunami coming,” noting that schools across the country have begun encouraging boys and girls who express confusion about their gender to adopt a transgender identity. Gender centers have reported increase of several thousand percent in the number of young people presenting with gender-related distress.
Lia Thomas, who won the women’s 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA championship last month, had competed as a man before competing against women and ranked No. 462 in men’s swimming, according to to Thomas’ female teammates.
“I think most Democrats know that’s wrong,” Bremer told Fox News. “The left looks more and more absurd when it comes out and says that Lia Thomas has no advantage. You can’t deny that a biological man has an advantage, especially after puberty.”
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“I will say federal legislation should be based on biology, not identity,” the candidate insisted.
Bremer said her campaign’s internal polls suggest people “viscerally” understand this issue and that the vast majority of Republicans and unaffiliated voters agree that men who identify as transgender women should not be allowed to compete against women in sport. Even “about half of Democrats said they had a problem with it too,” the candidate added.
Colorado is known for its fitness culture and one of two US Olympic and Paralympic training centers is based in Colorado Springs.
“I feel very comfortable saying that while there is a lot of support for people in transition, there just isn’t the same support for hurting little girls in sport,” Jon Caldara , president of the Independence Institute, a Colorado-based think tank, told Fox News Digital. “It’s unfair competition. Lia Thomas – the guy was something like 440th in the country as a young man and number 1 as a person who identifies as a woman.”
“For people who say they’re concerned about fairness, there’s no fairness in this,” Caldara added. “It’s just cruel. It’s anti-feminine. I think girls deserve to have their own sport, and I think most of Colorado does too.”
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Deborah Flora, another Republican candidate in the Senate race, also agreed with Bremer that the question resonates.
“Female athletes who have worked hard their whole lives losing to biological men are getting the attention of savvy people everywhere,” Flora told Fox News Digital. “The vast majority of Americans know that this is fundamentally unfair because biological males have physical advantages that hormone blockers cannot alleviate, including: bigger lungs, lower oxygen requirements, stronger heart and larger circulatory system, not to mention muscle mass and development. The science is clear.”
Flora went on to refer to “the elimination of privacy and the threat to the personal safety of women and girls in locker rooms, locker rooms and bathrooms”, and said that she was “fighting against these policies in schools”.
“I challenge Democrat Michael Bennett to stand up for these young women, to say enough is enough,” she added. “In his place, as a senator, I will stand up for what is right and just and help restore common sense to Washington.”
Bennet’s campaign did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment, but his Senate office did comment on Bennet’s story on the Larry Nassar question.
“Senator Bennet supported S. 2330 when it was unanimously passed by the Senate,” a spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “Senator Bennet also co-sponsored the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, which was a target response to the Larry Nassar scandal. This bill also passed the Senate unanimously.”
“In 2018, Senator Bennett met with Sarah Hirschland, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, to discuss the Committee’s reform efforts,” the spokesperson added. “Senator Bennet has said and strongly believes that anyone who knew of the charges against Larry Nassar and failed to act should be held accountable.”
A person involved in the S. 2330 negotiations told Fox News that the then-Senator. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., led the bill. The person verified Bremer’s claim that Bennet had no involvement in the drafting and progress of the bill, but the source said Bennet did not need to be involved because he was not doing part of the jurisdiction committee for the bill. The source added that committees like the Olympic Committee “don’t do much”.
A separate person involved in promoting S. 2330 in Colorado pointed to Bremer’s role in the process and questioned why Bennet hadn’t gotten involved.
“If you brag about being the chairman of the Olympic committee and you represent the state with all Olympic activity, shouldn’t you be involved?” the source asked in comments to Fox News Digital.
The source said Bremer “had a big hand in that” by connecting legislative leaders with former Olympians. The source also said Gardner got involved in matters critical to Colorado, even though he was not on the jurisdictional committee.
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Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a former Olympian and CEO of Champion Women, told Fox News Digital that Bennet was not involved in S. 2330, noting that he did not sponsor the bill.