LOVELAND — House Minority Leader, Hugh McKean, R-Loveland will not object to the results of the recent Larimer County Assembly that left him just short of making the June primary ballot by way of the party process, making the ballot via petition, instead.
McKean received official notification from the Secretary of State’s office that his petitions have a sufficient number of valid signatures. He needed 1,000 to secure his spot, he turned in 1,268; 132 were rejected, leaving 1,136 valid.
However, the principle of running an accurate county assembly is still in question for McKean, who cites more ballots being cast than there were voting delegates for his loss.
“If we want free, fair and accurate elections, this is a problem, and we should do better,” McKean said. “Everyone at assembly knew that the vote count was different than the delegate count, but only one person was trying to figure this out when everyone knew. It should never be up to the candidate who stands to lose the access to the ballot to figure it out.”
In Colorado, there are two ways a candidate for a state office can make the ballot. One, is the traditional caucus and assembly process that involves neighborhood meetings and county, district, and state assemblies. The other is through the petition process, which requires a specific number of valid signatures to be collected from registered voters of the candidate’s party in the boundaries for the office they wish to campaign for.
Name position on the ballot is determined in order by the top vote getters at assembly, followed by those who petition onto the ballot. Therefore, many candidates do both. They petition on to make sure they make the ballot, but then go through assembly to try and secure the top spot on the ballot.
More ballots than voters
Candidates who go through the assembly process must win 30 percent of the vote from eligible voters (called delegates). It was that process that McKean failed, garnering just 29 percent of the vote, while his opponent, Austin Hein, won 71 percent of the vote.
The Larimer County Assembly was fraught with problems, including the need to cast ballots twice in several races after a couple dozen people voted ahead of nominations for those offices.
In McKean’s House District 51 race, however, the problem was much more severe, with the number of ballots cast reportedly far outnumbering the number of eligible voters.
According to McKean, his campaign had crunched the numbers multiple times. There were 78 delegates eligible to cast a ballot, which meant McKean needed 24 votes to secure his spot for the June primary. So, when he learned he had 29, he breathed a sigh of relief, until he was told there were 101 ballots cast, giving him just 28.7 percent of the vote.
However, according to McKean’s math, 23 of the total votes cast were improper.
McKean spent the early part of this week determining what was the best way to handle the discrepancy. McKean did ask the Larimer County Chairman, Ron Weinberg, to submit a statement saying the election was not legitimate and the accurate outcome was unknown.
Weinberg has not issued such a statement as of press time and did not return request for comment from Complete Colorado.
Petitioning versus assembly
Petitioning onto the ballot has become more predominate in recent years. This year, 19 federal candidates turned in petitions, three statewide candidates turned in petitions, and nine state, house and senate candidates turned in petitions.
Many claim the caucus and assembly process has become corrupted or stacked in favor of more radical candidates. In September of 2021, the Colorado Republican Party Central Committee overwhelmingly voted against a proposal to opt out of the Colorado Primary. Had it been successful, the party would have selected Republican candidates for the general election in November through a winner take all vote at assembly.
The opt-out effort was spearheaded by GOP activists and supported by Republican State Representatives Dave Williams and Patrick Neville, who in June of 2021 also attempted to unseat McKean from his Minority Leader role with a call for a vote of no confidence by the Republican House caucus.
That also failed.
The attacks on McKean from Williams, Neville and Hein are well documented.
Hein, who filed a claim — that was quickly dismissed — with Griswold’s office incorrectly asserting that McKean did not live in his district, is backed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).
Hein is the director of political operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, the parent organization of which RMGO is an affiliate. Both are based in Loveland, which McKean represents.
The Neville family also has ties to the Northern Colorado non-profit that has been attempting to remove McKean from office since 2020 when he unseated Neville in his role as Minority Leader. Neville’s brother Joe is the vice president of the National Association for Gun Rights.
According to a story in Colorado Politics, RMGO “went on the attack” with fundraising emails calling McKean anti-gun and then “distributing an email survey that asked for (the) vote of “no confidence” in McKean and calling him a RINO (Republican in Name Only).”
“If you believe in election integrity it doesn’t matter if you won or lost, you should pursue the truth,” McKean said.
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