By Jim Ellis
April 18, 2018 — Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R), the wife of US Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), launched a campaign for governor in September, but her effort ended over the weekend when she failed to obtain a ballot position at the state convention.Republican delegates from around the state gathered at the party Assembly to award ballot positioning. To qualify as a primary candidate in the Centennial State, an individual must receive at least 30 percent of the delegates’ votes. Or, one can secure petition signatures from 1,500 registered party members in each of the state’s seven congressional districts.
Short of funds at the end of the year when the signature gathering process began, Coffman decided only to access the ballot through convention support. Many candidates choose both avenues, using the signatures as political insurance in case they fall short at the convention. Though the sitting attorney general, Coffman received just six percent delegate support, meaning that she now has no way of participating in the gubernatorial primary. Because her own office is also on the ballot, AG Coffman now has no place to run.
At the other end of the spectrum, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a cousin of former President George W. Bush, also began to see his aspirations crumble before the convention but managed to rebound. While attempting to secure ballot access via petition, Stapleton discovered fraudulent signatures among those his contracted consulting firm gathered. He then took the unprecedented step of going to the Secretary of State and asking that all of his signatures be withdrawn. He then quickly entered the convention hoping to secure the 30 percent support factor just two days before the official conclave began.
In the end, Stapleton easily qualified and only he and former Small Business Administration regional director and city of Parker mayor, Greg Lopez, largely to the latter man’s inspirational oratory during his candidate presentation, topped the 30 percent threshold. All others must now qualify through petition. With Coffman eliminated and his securing first ballot position from the convention vote, Stapleton is now expected to win the June 26 primary and become the official party nominee for governor.
Things were also a bit surprising at the Democratic Assembly. There, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, who had shown strength at the precinct caucuses and county conventions, posted an overwhelming 62 percent support figure. Barely qualifying at 32 percent was US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder), the man who was, and possibly still is, favored to win the party nomination and general election.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term. Democrats are rated as at least slight favorites to retain the governor’s mansion, but unfolding developments can quickly change an open campaign’s direction as we clearly witnessed this past weekend.