DENVER — Just under 300 days remain until Colorado picks a new governor. As the time quickly passes until March caucuses, and the first major sign it’s election season, more than two dozen hopefuls are busy trying to win enough support to appear on the November ballot.
Ten Republicans, 10 Democrats, seven unaffiliated, one Libertarian, one Green Party, one Unity Party and one American Constitution, are all fighting for the right to live at 400 8th Ave in Denver (The Governor’s mansion).
And they all have financial reports due Tuesday. Democrat Michael Johnston currently leads the way among candidates in all parties with more than $1.5 million raised in 2017. Three months will have passed since the last filing, however, so Tuesday’s filings may shed new light on whose leading their parties in the money game.
Complete Colorado will follow all aspects of the race leading up to the election in November.
The basic qualifications to run for Governor are the same for everyone. Candidates must be 30 years old, lived in Colorado for at least two years, and be a U.S. citizen. Additionally, candidates must have affiliated with a party or unaffiliated by Jan. 2.
Yet, the road to get on the ballot for major party candidates, minor party candidates and unaffiliated candidates are a bit different.
Assemblies are the culmination of the caucus system, which is a party-specific meeting of voters who designate representatives (delegates) to a county and state meeting of the party. At the state assembly, those delegates will cast votes in favor of nominating specific candidates to appear on either the general election ballot in November or the primary ballot on June 26, dependent on the party and the number of successful candidates.
Major party (Republican/Democrat) candidates can be placed on the primary ballot by getting 30 percent or more of the votes at their party assembly. If no candidate receives 30 percent after two votes, the two candidates having the highest number of votes will be paced on the primary ballot.
Minor party candidates (All others registered as a party with the state) whose party holds an assembly also need 30 percent of the vote to advance to a primary or general election. However, there is no provision if a candidate does not receive 30 percent of the vote. There is only a primary if there is more than one candidate from the party that has been nominated either through the assembly process or by a successful petition process.
There are no caucuses or assemblies for unaffiliated candidates. All unaffiliated candidates must petition onto the general election ballot.
Major party candidates can petition onto the ballot. However, if they participated in their party’s caucus and failed to gather 10 percent of the support of their party, they are not allowed to petition onto the ballot. Their chance of running for office is over. If they gather more than 10 percent but less than 30 percent of the votes at their assembly or they chose not to participate in the assembly, they need to gather 10,500 signatures (1,500 from each of the seven congressional districts). Additionally, only signatures from qualified voters from their party are valid, and voters can only sign one petition. The window to gather signatures is from Jan. 16 to March 20.
Because of the deadline dates, candidates who want to participate in their party’s caucus (March 6) don’t have the time wait to see the if they are successful before deciding whether to petition onto the primary ballot. It takes a large monetary commitment to primary onto the ballot, so many candidates will either do both or only primary to be sure they make it onto the primary ballot.
All petitions must be approved by the Secretary of State before signatures can be collected. As of Jan. 11, seven candidates had petitions approved: Donna Lynne (Dem.), Teri Kear (Rep.), Walker Stapleton (Rep.), Michael Johnston (Dem.), Doug Robinson (Rep.), Victor Mitchell (Rep.), and Jared Polis (Dem.). All successful candidates will be placed on their party’s primary ballot for June 26. That ballot will also include all successful candidates from the party’s general assembly as a result from the party caucuses.
Other major party candidates who have registered with the Secretary of State’s office are: Republicans Steve Barlock, Cynthia Coffman, Lew Gaiter, Greg Lopez, Tom Tancredo and Jim Rundberg and Democrats Noel Ginsburg, Cary Kennedy, Adam Garrity, Moses Humes, Michael Schroeder, Erik Underwood and Renee Blanchard.
Minor party candidates can also petition onto the ballot. They need 1,000 signatures, but dates to gather them are from Feb. 5 to April 2. Rules are 1,000 signatures or 2 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for governor (2,041,605), whichever is less. Signatures can come from any registered voter so long as they have not signed another petition. A minor party candidate who successfully completes the process will be placed on the November ballot if there is only one successful candidate from the minor party. If there is more than one, all successful candidates will be placed on the primary ballot for June 26.
There are no approved petitions yet for any minor party candidates. However, four people have registered with the secretary of state’s office: Veronique Bellamy (Green), Scott Helker (Libertarian) William Hammons (Unity) and George Cantrell (American Constitution).
Unaffiliated candidates also need to get 1,000 signatures between May 17 and July 12 to get on the November ballot. Those signatures can come from any registered elector so long as they have not signed another petition. Any person who successfully completes the process will be placed on the November ballot.
There are no approved petitions for any unaffiliated candidates, although seven people have registered with the Secretary of State’s office: Kathleen Cunningham, John French, Richard Osada, Dianna Perkins, Korey Starkey, Michael Wilbourn and Matthew Wood.
Here are this week’s highlights in the run to the mansion:
- According to the Secretary of State’s website, Johnston had already outraised all candidates through the last reporting period, with $1,254,389.05 in contributions. The Johnston campaign sent out a press release ahead of the mandatory Jan. 16 reporting deadline with an updated figure of $1,524,593 stemming from 6,781 contributions from 5,175 individuals. The amount was a new record for the most money raised by a gubernatorial candidate from either party in an off-year since campaign finance reform was enacted in 2002, the news release said. The previous record was set by Bill Ritter with $1,493,659 in 2009. Ritter decided that year not to seek re-election to a second term. Johnston also recently called for Colorado to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
- Johnston’s nearest opponent Polis ($711,167.75) has yet to file his final 2017 report, but Polis did announce he was opening four new offices across the state. The new offices in Denver (66 S. Broadway) and Aurora (16744 E. Iliff Ave) opened Friday while Boulder (3100 Arapahoe Ave., Suite 104) was scheduled for noon and Fort Collins (706 S. College Ave., Suite 200) was scheduled for 2 p.m. on Polis planned to be at all the openings and speak to the public.
- Democrats clearly won the first round of contributions heading into next week’s mandatory reporting deadline, out raising Republican by more than $3 million.
- Johnston (D), $1.5 million
- Polis (D) $711,000
- Kennedy (D) $565,000
- Ginsburg (D) $461,000
- Lynne (D) $374,000
- Robinson (R) $283,000