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Another GOP House Seat Imperiled as Colorado Supreme Court Removes Rep. Lamborn From Primary Ballot

Another GOP House Seat Imperiled as Colorado Supreme Court Removes Rep. Lamborn From Primary Ballot

He can ask a federal court to “strike the residency requirement.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has represented Colorado’s 5th district for six years, but it looks like that may come to an end. The Colorado Supreme Court kicked him off the GOP primary ballot after the justices “ruled that a petition gatherer working for Lamborn’s campaign did not live in the state at the time.”

That made the signatures invalid and placed Lamborn “below the threshold for ballot access.”

Lamborn needed signatures from 1,000 registered Republicans in the 5th District. He turned in 1,783 signatures, but only 1,269 received a stamp of approval. From The Denver Post:

Shortly thereafter, a lawsuit was filed by five Republicans from the congressman’s district challenging whether two of the signature gatherers hired by his campaign were Colorado residents as required by state law.

The Denver District Court ruled that one of the gatherers was not a resident, and invalidated 58 signatures he collected. It found that the other — who had gathered more 269 signatures — was.

The Colorado Supreme Court rejected this ruling:

But the Colorado Supreme Court, which reviewed the case upon appeal, rejected the lower court’s ruling on the residency of the second gatherer, Ryan Tipple, which was based off the legal theory that he intended to move to the state.

“Tipple’s stated intent to live in Colorado in the future is relevant only if he has a fixed habitation in Colorado to which he presently intends to return,” the Supreme Court’s ruling said. “The record reveals none. … All of the objective record evidence regarding his residency at the time he circulated the petition for the Lamborn Campaign indicated that his primary place of abode was in California.”

The ruling left Lamborn 58 signatures short of 1,000.

The court added: “We recognize the gravity of this conclusion, but Colorado law does not permit us to conclude otherwise.”

Now there’s still a chance Lamborn could return to the ballot. Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said the congressman could ask a federal court “to strike the residency requirement.” His lawyer, Ryan Call, told Politico that’s the plan:

“We believe, quite frankly, denying a sitting congressman the right to participate in a primary election where the residency of the circulator denies the otherwise valid petition signatures is unconstitutional,” Call said. “We intend to file an action in federal district court, and there are a number of cases that find that the residency requirement for circulators as unconstitutional.”

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stephen, a candidate for governor, gathered signatures with the same company Lamborn used, but he was able to find a spot on the ballot via party convention vote.

I don’t think this will flip his district. Cook Political Report hasn’t changed anything and listed the district as Likely Republican. Reports I have looked at have described his district as conservative. If Lamborn cannot get on the ballot, Stephen will face off against Colorado State Senator Owen Hill and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed Hill.

Hill has represented District 10 in the state senate since 2013. He first ran in 2010, but lost by a slim margin to then-incumbent John Morse (D).

His campaign issues include protecting life and school choice. He also wants to reform Medicaid and supports Right to Work. He also placed gun rights on his website. He strongly supports the 2nd Amendment, saying that “[P]rotecting our Liberty is the fundamental idea behind” this amendment “and the greater the government grows, the more necessary the 2nd Amendment becomes.”

Glenn became county commissioner in 2014. He ran ran for the state senate in 2016, but incumbent Michael Bennet (D) barely defeated him.

Glenn has been campaigning to reduce regulations to allow growth in the economy for employers and employees. He also wants a balanced budget amendment to force the “government to live within its means.” He advocates fora secure border.

He says on his website that he “will endeavor to repeal Obamacare and other policies that divide Americans and separate them from their elected officials.”

If a court allows Lamborn back on the ballot, it may not be an easy ride. Politico described his past elections and primaries:

Lamborn has faced a number of close calls for renomination in the past. He was nearly knocked out of Congress in 2016 when Calandra Vargas, a first-time candidate, delivered a show-stopping speech at the state Republican convention and drew 58 percent of the vote there. Lamborn, who received 35 percent of the vote, was just 18 votes over the convention threshold for ballot access.

The six-term congressman has also faced stiff primary challenges.

In 2006, Lamborn, then a state legislator, won the nomination over Republican Jeff Crank, who was endorsed by retiring Rep. Joel Hefley. Crank sought a rematch in 2008, but Lamborn hung on to win renomination with a plurality of the primary vote: 44 percent. In 2014, Republican Bentley Rayburn, a retired Air Force general, nearly toppled Lamborn again, challenging him over potential military base closings.

Like I said, it looks like even if Lamborn cannot run, the seat will stay in the GOP. Ballotpedia has Stephany Rose Spaulding as the only candidate in the Democrat primary. Money reports on Ballotpedia show that she doesn’t even have $100,000.


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healthguyfsu | April 24, 2018 at 1:22 pm

More GOP cannibalism

Sorry fella but the law is the law. If you or your staff could not be bothered to ensure that your signature gatherer contractor did not follow the law, too bad – so sad.

This is not a new law. I think it is a dumb law but it is an existing law.

I would feel the same regardless of party.

    Milwaukee in reply to onlyabill. | April 24, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Right. It is the law. What is with the contractor, anyhow? Assign a staffer–we need 1000 signatures. Get 2000. Line up 50 volunteers, each gets 2 pages, 40 signatures. Make a party out of it. Instead the job is given to aliens from another state, doing the job native Coloradans won’t do.

    onlyabill in reply to onlyabill. | April 25, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    As a follow-on, I would also think that Lamborn would have a pretty good case to sue the contractor. It was [likely] the contractor’s job to collect the requested number of signatures in accordance with the law. They failed to do that “bigly” and as such I would think that Lamborn has a valid case…

    One might have to wonder, is this an “established” local company? Do they do this for many politicians? Have they “screwed” up like this for those with a “D” after their name? Inquiring minds want to know…

So, the SCOC is concerned about residency requirements for someone to participate in the election process.

Leftists to take to the streets in protest in 4, 3, 2,….never.

Back in 1976, I tried to put my father on a ballot.
We needed only two sheets of signatures.
One signature on one of the sheets was not a resident, so the entire sheet was ruled invalid by the Secretary of State’s office.

Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson was jawboning his way onto the ballot in the same office.

Well, it IS Colorado… it is the law, but it seems a dumb law. What difference does it make that the person gathering legal signatures is a resident? They check the majority of the signatures to make sure they are valid, so why would it matter other than this law?

There are some stupid laws that states have, like Alabama having a law that you can’t sell peanuts after sundown. Some things just don’t make sense, especially in this day and age. It’s probably a law from ages ago when they were riding horseback to collect the signatures.

This reminds me of how Obama won his first election by getting everyone else thrown off the ballot.

Why aren’t my comments showing up?

Seems to me I remember a story where Obama was short signatures, but was put on the ballot anyway.

    Milhouse in reply to puhiawa. | April 24, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    I don’t think so. On the contrary, he liked to get rid of opponents by getting their signatures struck down.

      stevewhitemd in reply to Milhouse. | April 24, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Getting people removed from the ballot for too few “valid” signatures was an activity not specific to Champ — every pol in Illinois plays that game. It’s well known, and because of that it doesn’t work very often, because even the dumbest pol in Illinois (and there’s quite a contest for that title) understands how to collect signatures.

      Other commenters above get it right — this was sloppy, poorly done work and it should cost the guy. He didn’t do his job in a professional way; that’s enough for me to want to see him removed.

      Sure the rules are stupid. You follow them anyway if you want the job.

    murkyv in reply to puhiawa. | April 24, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Perhaps you’re thinking of this…

    Indiana Dem official sentenced to prison for ’08 ballot fraud in Obama-Clinton primary

    The plot successfully faked names and signatures on both the Obama and Clinton presidential petitions that were used to place the candidates on the ballot. So many names were forged — an estimated 200 or more — that prosecutor Stanley Levco said that had the fraud been caught during the primary, “the worst that would have happened, is maybe Barack Obama wouldn’t have been on the ballot for the primary.”


    In court, former longtime St. Joseph County Democratic Chairman Butch Morgan, Jr. was sentenced to one year behind bars, and is expected to serve half that, as well as Community Corrections and probation. Former St. Joseph County Board of Elections worker and Democratic volunteer Dustin Blythe received a sentence of one year in Community Corrections and probation, which means no jail time.

    In April, a jury convicted Morgan and Blythe on numerous felony conspiracy counts to commit petition fraud and felony forgery counts.

    Former St. Joseph County Board of Voter Registration Democratic board member Pam Brunette and Board of Voter Registration worker Beverly Shelton previously pleaded guilty and testified for prosecutors against Morgan and Blythe. They both received two years of probation.

The same residency requirement for signature gatherers in other states has repeatedly been struck down by federal courts, so it’s unlikely Colorado’s law would survive a challenge.

    Connivin Caniff in reply to Milhouse. | April 24, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    You seem to know what you are talking about. Do you remember what other states, and perhaps more details? In any event, it’s not going to look too good that he has to go to federal court to save himself. These guys have too much campaign money and not enough brains.

Subotai Bahadur | April 24, 2018 at 6:57 pm

Lamborn is my Congress-critter. This was/is the subject of a prolonged discussion on another law professor’s site. I beg your indulgence to quote what I said there based on up close personal observation:

There are 4 other candidates. Lamborn screwed the pooch as a Congressman. He would not stand up to either Boehner or the Left. He would not come to see constituents, or even have his staff weenies hold town halls open to the public. Just in party venues. He literally broke down in tears when pressed in the last open public appearance in my town here in 2015 AFTER the Republicans took both the House and Senate and he was pressed as to why we were not fighting back against the Democrats and Obama. I was there. This is an exact quote: “You don’t understand how hard it is for us. You can’t fight the Democrats.”

There is a reason he had to try to petition onto the ballot, because if he used the normal caucus/convention route he would not have made the ballot. I am speaking as someone who in the past has been a convention delegate for him, before I gave up on the Republicans.

I am less than thrilled with Darryl Glenn. Met him before he ran for Senate in 2016. Liked him then. Marched alongside him in a parade in Pueblo, which is Hispanic Leftist Reconquista country. There is an element of personal risk in doing that. I supported him [and campaigned for him. edit] through the nomination.

HOWEVER, our state Republican Party is still #NeverTrump [even now], and they used him to start the process of having elected Republicans refuse to support him in the general election, along with the state party. They would have rather had Hillary win. Glenn proved he will roll over for the Left and the GOPe. I more than suspect that if he does lose the nomination, he will start whining about how it was about race.

For those not from Colorado, the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph is the largest paper in southern Colorado and based in the largest Republican city in Colorado.

I am leaning towards Owen Hill [not a “crackpot” but a well known state legislator], but admit that I do not know the other two candidates.

By the way, I will be getting to know the other candidates, soon.

I think that if Lamborn finagles his way onto the General Election ballot that it will piss off enough voters to get the Democrat elected. The GOPe is NOT popular with conservatives in southern Colorado, and a lot of them are no longer Republicans because of people like Lamborn.

rejected the lower court’s ruling on the residency of the second gatherer, Ryan Tipple, which was based off the legal theory that he intended to move to the state.

This is not an unusual provision. Elected offices, town/county/school district positions, licenses, etc. often specify that intent to establish residency at some uncertain date is sufficiently close to actual residency.

However, this—

“Tipple’s stated intent to live in Colorado in the future is relevant only if he has a fixed habitation in Colorado to which he presently intends to return,” the Supreme Court’s ruling said

—is more unusual. In fact I’ve never heard of such a requirement. Usually, either declared intent to move is considered sufficient, or it isn’t. Intent to move into a pre-established domicile seems an overly anal elaboration. I wonder if the court didn’t just fabricate it specifically to justify this ruling.