The process candidates use to get on your ballot is boring. Think “paint drying” kind of stuff.
That doesn’t make it any less important because the people who end up on the ballot are the ones who lead, and make decisions for Colorado.
It wasn’t quite so boring on Tuesday, though, when the process seemed to cave in on Republican frontrunner for governor, Walker Stapleton, and incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn.
Here’s how it all went down.
Republican Doug Lamborn is a six-term Congressman from Colorado Springs, who’s trying to make a seventh go at it. But his campaign was called into question in a courtroom Tuesday over the way he qualified for the ballot.
A candidate can get on that ballot in one of two ways: either by collecting 1,000 signatures from registered Republicans who live in the 5th Congressional District, or by getting enough support in the party’s assembly process. Lamborn chose to collect signatures, and by law, they had to be collected by Colorado residents.
The lawsuit was filed by five voters in Lamborn’s southern Colorado district against the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, because the SOS is the one who approved Lamborn’s 1,269 signatures. The voters alleged that not all the signature collectors really lived in Colorado… meaning Lamborn wouldn’t have enough valid signatures… meaning he couldn’t run for Congress again.
And that leads us to...
Walker Stapleton, the current state treasurer, wanted to intervene on Lamborn’s behalf because he used the same company Lamborn did - Kennedy Enterprises - to collect signatures to run for governor. His campaign filed a motion to dismiss the Lamborn case because if Lamborn’s signatures were tossed out, his may be, too.
But then, on Tuesday morning, just as a judge was hearing the Lamborn case, Walker Stapleton announced he had changed his mind.
"The court has not granted our motion to intervene -- well, we would actually like to withdraw it,” the Stapleton campaign attorney, Chris Murray, said to reporters. “We think it'll make the hearing a little faster today, and we have every reason to believe there will be a similar challenge filed against us."
About an hour-and-a-half after that, Stapleton himself went into the Secretary of State’s downtown Denver office and handed in a letter… “asking him to remove me from the ballot and disqualify every single one of the signatures gathered by Kennedy Enterprises,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton said that company lied to him. He called it a fraud.
“I am unfortunately a victim of this misconduct, and there may be other victims, too,” Stapleton said.
He added that the company behaved so badly that he's actually going to sue them, and anyone else who used them should do the same.
This doesn’t mean Stapleton wants out of the race, though...
And that brings us back to…
DOUG LAMBORN (AGAIN)
As we already know, Lamborn is one of the people who used the company Stapleton is now suing. Since Lamborn’s opportunity to use the assembly process has passed, he needs these signatures to be valid in order to run for Congress.
Seven signature collectors took the stand Tuesday to argue they really are Colorado residents and therefore, they are qualified to collect signatures.
The judge found six of them met the requirements, even the one who testified by phone from California; he’s flipping a house there, in case you’re wondering.
The other collector, from Missouri, was responsible for 58 signatures. The judge removed those, bringing Lamborn’s total to 1,211 – still enough to run.
The voters who filed the original lawsuit told 9NEWS Tuesday night that they’ll appeal the Lamborn case decision to the State Supreme Court.
Stapleton now has to participate in, and get support at the GOP assembly for the governor’s race, if he wants to make the ballot. That assembly happens this weekend.