State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has qualified for a spot in the Republican primary, becoming the first gubernatorial candidate in his party and just the second overall to earn a spot on the ballot.
The Secretary of State’s Office announced Friday that Stapleton had made the ballot. According to a release from the secretary’s office, Stapleton submitted 19,214 signatures, with 11,325 deemed valid.
Stapleton turned in signatures on Feb. 23. He joins Democrat Mike Johnston as the only other candidate in the governor’s race to have successfully petitioned onto their parties’ primary ballots.
Candidates are allowed to “cure” non-matching signatures with technical issues, the secretary’s release said. Though he had enough signatures to qualify (he needed 10,500 valid signatures), Stapleton opted to “cure” 16 signatures.
For Stapleton’s camp, the announcement could come with a sigh of relief. Late last month, a story surfaced of a circulator who alleged he had illegally gathered signatures for nomination petitions.
The man told Denver 7 he had gathered signatures in Pueblo for Walker’s campaign, though Walker’s campaign said they had no record of the man working for them. Secretary of State spokesperson Lynn Bartels said last month their office conducted an investigation but did not find enough evidence to suggest there was an issue. The circulator’s name was not listed on any petition as a circulator.
Fellow Republican candidates Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson both filed their nomination petitions last month and are awaiting the results. Like Stapleton, Mitchell and Robinson needed to collect 1,500 signatures from registered Republicans in each of the state’s seven Congressional districts.
Renewed controversy over Stapleton’s great-grandfather — a KKK member — could dampen Friday’s accomplishment.
A story published by the Colorado Times Recorder on Thursday reported on allegations made by GOP gubernatorial candidate Stephen Barlock, who claims Stapleton is pushing his family’s foundation to donate money to the History Colorado museum to remove references to former Denver Mayor Benjamin F. Stapleton.
The story revolves around changes made to a History Colorado display in 2012 that removed mentions of Benjamin F. Stapleton. The current display references the Klan’s membership in Denver (“17,000 members in Denver alone”) but doesn’t mention the elder Stapleton, unlike the previous display.
The Colorado Times Recorder reports Stapleton’s family foundation, the Harmes C. Fishback Foundation Trust, has donated more than $50,000 to the museum since 2012, increasing its annual donations that year. The foundation is currently led by Jenna Stapleton, Walker Stapleton’s wife.
Denverite has previously reported on the controversy and complicated history behind Stapleton and the neighborhood that carries his name.
After the Downtown Denver YMCA announced they would be renaming their remodeled building after Benjamin F. Stapleton Jr., son of the former Denver Mayor and KKK member, staff at the recreational center received a letter and talking points for the renaming. The renaming was also tied to Harmes C. Fishback Foundation Trust, which donated $1 million toward renovations.