By Jim EllisApril 25, 2018 — The Colorado state Supreme Court, reversing a lower court opinion, disqualified Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) Monday from the June 26 primary ballot.
While Lamborn submitted more than enough legal names to meet the state’s petition requirement of 1,000 nomination signatures from 5th District registered Republicans, apparently the consulting firm Lamborn hired to collect the names, Kennedy Enterprises, employed some circulators who are not Colorado residents. According to state election law, such circulators must live in the state. Therefore, the high court invalidated all petitions that the non-residents circulated, enough to drop Lamborn’s valid signature total below the minimum prerequisite.
The congressman indicated that he will file a lawsuit in federal court to overturn the ruling. In the past, federal courts have upheld petitions under similar circumstances citing the circulators and petition signers’ 1st Amendment right of free speech to support political candidates of their choice.
State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, the Republicans’ 2016 US Senate candidate who held Sen. Michael Bennet (D) to a 50-44 percent re-election victory, have qualified for the ballot. Sen. Hill gained ballot access through the party nominating convention, an assembly in which Rep. Lamborn did not participate. Glenn qualified through the petition process.
A situation similar to Rep. Lamborn’s, involving gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, was about to occur. Stapleton, Colorado’s current state treasurer and also contracting with Kennedy Enterprises, discovered the circulator situation and asked the Secretary of State to withdraw his petitions after they were submitted. The Stapleton campaign operators discovered the problem in time to allow the candidate to attend the nominating assembly last weekend. Stapleton easily exceeded the 30 percent support requirement at the convention, in fact placing first among the delegates. Therefore, the petition issue for the Stapleton campaign became moot. In Lamborn’s case, the circulator residency problem was not uncovered in time for him to enter the district nominating convention.
The 5th District is safely Republican, and the GOP is in strong position to hold the seat regardless of which candidate becomes the eventual party nominee. The Lamborn campaign will quickly file with the federal court, which should return a quick decision since the June 26 primary is fast approaching.