Update, Tuesday, April 24: The Secretary of State’s office confirmed Robinson’s campaign has filed a lawsuit against them. It will likely be assigned to a judge on Wednesday.
Earlier: The Colorado governor’s race is growing tighter as the June primary date approaches. And right now, no candidate is feeling the squeeze more than Republican Doug Robinson.
Robinson’s attempt to petition onto the party’s primary was dealt a blow last week when the Secretary of State’s office announced Robinson did not collect enough signatures to qualify onto the ballot. Robinson’s only recourse is the court system, where his campaign will attempt to prove some of the nullified signatures are valid.
Campaign spokesperson Brett Maney said Monday the campaign plans to file a lawsuit contesting the secretary’s decision as soon as Tuesday.
The campaign needed to submit 1,500 signatures in each congressional district; only 1,478 out of the 2,092 submitted by Robinson’s campaign in the 2nd Congressional District were deemed valid. (That district includes Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Eagle, Gilpin, Grand, Jefferson, Larimer, Summit, and Park counties.) His campaign submitted 11,343 total valid signatures from the state’s seven congressional districts.
Their plan is to prove at least 22 signatures were valid and quickly jump back into the race. Robinson’s campaign has 100 total signatures they believe are valid but were rejected by the Secretary of State’s office.
“I don’t see it being a long, drawn out process,” Maney said Monday. “I don’t imagine this will take very long.”
Robinson’s campaign took the added step of verifying the signatures themselves by cross-referencing them with the Secretary of State voter registration file. Most of the 100 rejected signatures were invalid because the Secretary of State wasn’t able to find voter registration info, while others were a party mismatch or had missing information.
The snafu was the second petition-related issue during this year’s governor’s race. Robinson was among the first people to point out the first: He called out possible misconduct in the signature gathering process for fellow republican candidate and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s campaign in March.
The controversy led Stapleton to abandon his petitions and seek a place on the ballot through the state assembly. In Stapleton’s case, the issue revolved around a circulator working for Kennedy Enterprises, the firm Stapleton hired to collect signatures. Robinson used the Signature Gathering Company (actual name) to collect his signatures.
Issues with the petitioning process aren’t new. Several GOP candidates in the U.S. Senate race filed lawsuits to qualify onto the ballot in 2016.
Robinson believes there should be changes made to the petitioning process.
Before last Friday’s announcement, Robinson told Denverite he wasn’t concerned about any problems with his signatures. He did say the state’s current petitioning process should be looked at.
“I think it needs to change,” Robinson said.
Among the concerns are the high cost of collecting signatures. Stapleton’s campaign alone spent more than $200,000 for petitions they would later abandon. It’s one reason some candidates forgo this process and attempt the less costly assembly process.
“If you have the resources, you can make it happen,” Robinson said. “I think, could those resources be better spent, you know, toward the primary or other things, could the number of signatures be less?”
“This form of having people physically do it, I mean it’s — we’re in a technological age today where it could be done faster, more inexpensively, in a different manner where some of that money could go to the state,” Robinson added. “Have candidates have a filing fee or something like that.”
A former businessman, Robinson hasn’t run for public office before. But it’s in his family. As you might have heard, and as some of his opponents like mentioning, Robinson is Mitt Romney’s nephew.
It wasn’t a great weekend for Robinson or his uncle. Romney wasn’t able to outright win the Republican nomination for U.S. senator, meaning he will need to win through a primary.
So who’s still running for governor in Colorado?
The field for both major parties is basically set at this point. Robinson, for the time being, is a maybe. Here are the candidates who have secured a place in the June primary:
-Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne
-U.S. Rep. Jared Polis