UPDATE: Surprise! Another change:
If you’ve been following efforts to finalize the ballot for the GOP U.S. Senate race, you are well aware of the Furious Outhouse Fire that has come to symbolize the entire process (we can’t even call it a “Dumpster Fire” anymore – we’re well beyond that particular metaphor).
We’ve been trying to keep you updated on everything that is happening, as much as it is possible to do such a thing as quickly as the news keeps changing, and here’s where things stand as of this writing. Please note that things can – and almost certainly will – change again soon, and we will update this post as changes occur. For the sake of sanity and to help clarify things, we’re breaking this up into the latest events for the different campaigns and public officials involved.
One other quick note: Supporters of Robert Blaha, Ryan Frazier, and Jon Keyser like to portray themselves as the victims here (Keyser himself publicly blamed “bureaucrats” in the SOS office for his initial ballot troubles), but this entire fiasco was avoidable. Republican candidate Jack Graham was the first Senate candidate to be certified for the Primary ballot via the petition process, in large part because GRAHAM DID IT RIGHT. The general rule of thumb in collecting petitions is to turn in double the amount required in order to compensate for any potential errors, and that’s what Graham did; he submitted more than 22,000 signatures, while Blaha, Frazier, and Keyser were in the 16,000-17,000 range (candidates for U.S. Senate must collect 1,500 valid signatures from registered Republicans in each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts, for a total of 10,500). Graham did what he needed to do and hired consultants that could get it done. Blaha, by contrast, hired Frank McNulty, while Keyser was struggling to raise enough money just to keep his campaign in operation.
Colorado Secretary of State/Primary Ballots
The Primary ballot was supposed to be finalized by the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office on Friday, April 29. That didn’t happen, obviously, because the campaigns of Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier filed a motion to prevent the SOS from doing so; that stay was granted, but ended Wednesday evening.
Today, a Denver judge issued another stay in response to a request from Frazier’s campaign;
Frazier has until Monday, May 9 to file an appeal of a court ruling that he is not eligible for the Primary ballot. Secretary of State Wayne Williams plans to challenge this ruling because more deadlines are rapidly approaching: The “stay” order has been rescinded by the court in light of a new deal with Frazier.
♦ May 14 is the deadline for county clerks to transmit a Primary Election ballot to military and overseas voters (45 days before June 28th Primary).
♦ May 27 is the deadline for Primary Ballots to be “printed and in possession of the county clerk (no later than 32 days before the Primary Election)
♦ June 6 is the first day that mail ballots can be mailed to voters (not sooner than 22 days before the Primary Election).
Here’s the election calendar prepared by the Colorado SOS.
Ballot Status: ON
In the span of about 18 hours, Blaha learned that he was on the Primary ballot, off the Primary ballot, and as of this morning, back on the Primary ballot. Blaha has also called for SOS Wayne Williams to resign in the wake of the massive confusion that took place during the past couple of weeks. There is no update as to whether Blaha will proceed with this line of attack on Williams now that he is (probably) on the ballot.
OFF ON, pending appeal
Frazier appears to have the most tenuous position at the moment, in large part because he was the last of the four Senate candidates to submit his petitions for ballot access (click here for a detailed explanation of why this is important). Frazier is being represented in court by former SOS Scott Gessler, who will challenge a court ruling that Frazier is ineligible for the ballot. On Thursday, a judge ruled that Frazier still doesn’t have enough valid petition signatures in CD-3. Later in the day, a ruling came down that Frazier CAN be on the Primary ballot, but that he must withdraw from the Senate race if he loses his appeal.
Ballot Status: ON (for now)
Keyser has a court order forcing the SOS to place his name on the Primary ballot, and that’s unlikely to change. However…of the three Republicans who have been trying to get onto the ballot in the last few weeks, Keyser also has the biggest cloud hanging over his head. Keyser’s petitions included at least one, and possibly more, examples of blatant forgery and fraud in the collecting of signatures. Keyser also barely collected enough signatures from CD-1 to qualify for the ballot – he made it with just 20 signatures to spare – so more examples of forgery or fraud could put him back under the required amount of signatures for ballot access.
It’s unlikely that Keyser’s name would be removed from the ballot before Monday, but he could still end up as a “Zombie Candidate” if a judge later rules that votes for Keyser cannot be counted because he should never have been eligible for the ballot in the first place. There is some precedent here; in 2012, Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter failed to qualify for the GOP Primary ballot because of questions about forged signatures. Fallout from that scandal ultimately forced McCotter to resign from Congress in July 2012.