A couple of weeks ago, The 101 outlined Colorado’s caucus process. That’s been the traditional “grassroots” way candidates get on the primary ballot.
But there’s another alternative to get on the ballot that likely will play a big role in 2018’s open contest for governor: The petition.
Candidates may start collecting signatures on Tuesday.
So here’s the 101.
How it works: Candidates who opt not to make the ballot via caucuses and assemblies may take out petitions and gather signatures to get into the primary.
For statewide offices, such as governor, candidates must collect 1,500 signatures from registered voters in their political party in each of the state’s seven congressional districts. Signature requirements for other offices vary.
Can candidates go the caucus route AND gather petition signatures?
Yes, and some do. But petition signatures are due March 20, while state assemblies won’t meet to select gubernatorial candidates until April 14. So the petition route is sometimes seen as more reliable than taking a chance on the caucus/assembly process.
Do the candidates go door-to-door to collect these signatures? Are you kidding me?
UPDATED: OK, some candidates are collecting signatures on Tuesday. But they sure won’t be able to do it all themselves.
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) January 16, 2018
Candidates typically hire political consulting firms, particularly those that specialize in collecting petition signatures. And it’s expensive.
In 2016 four Republican U.S. Senate candidates spent more than $700,000 on consultants to gather petition signatures.
Keep reading for the outcome of all that spending.
What can go wrong? Plenty.
One of those 2016 GOP U.S. Senate candidates – Jon Keyser – got in hot water when a paid signature gatherer forged petition signatures. Although four Senate candidates petitioned onto the ballot that year, three had to appeal to the courts to make it. And the woman who forged the signatures pleaded guilty to fraud.
What do I need to know if someone asks me to sign a petition? You have to be affiliated with that candidate’s party, i.e., you can’t be unaffiliated. And you may only sign one candidate petition per office, so only one petition for governor, only one for attorney general, etc.
Which statewide candidates are collecting signatures? The Secretary of State keeps a list. Here’s a summary of some of the most prominent petitioners:
- U.S. House District 5: Not only is incumbent GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn (who narrowly made the 2016 ballot via an assembly) signed up to gather signatures, so are three of his Republican challengers, state Rep. Owen Hill, 2016 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Darryl Glenn and Bill Rhea. One Democrat in the El Paso County-based district, Stephany Rose Spaulding, is petitioning too.
- Governor: Democratic candidates former state Sen. Michael Johnston, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis are signed up to petition, though the latter two have indicated they may also test the caucus waters. On the Republican side, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Doug Robinson, Victor Mitchell and Teri Kear plan to gather signatures.
- Attorney general: Democrats Phil Weiser, Brad Levin and Amy Padden are signed up to petition for the nomination for the open seats.
Treasurer: Republicans Brian Watson and state Rep. Polly Lawrence plan to gather signatures.