DENVER – Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson fell 22 signatures short of qualifying for the primary ballot, according to the secretary of state’s office, though his campaign says they plan to file litigation to fight that decision.
Additionally, according to the secretary of state’s office, fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell did qualify for the primary ballot after his petition signatures were verified.
Gubernatorial candidates are required to gather 1,500 valid signatures from Republican voters in each of the state’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500 valid signatures.
Robinson’s campaign submitted 17,391 signatures, but 6,048 of them were deemed invalid. And though the secretary of state’s office found that 11,343 of those signatures were valid, the office deemed just 1,478 of the signatures he gathered in Colorado’s 2nd congressional district valid – putting Robinson short of the 1,500 needed in that district to make the ballot.
He also narrowly hit the necessary total in the 7th congressional district – topping the 1,500 signature threshold by four.
Robinson’s campaign told Denver7 it was planning to file litigation to challenge the decision, saying the campaign believes it had enough signatures and there may be discrepancies.
"We plan on challenging the decision. We're sure that we have enough signatures," said Brett Maney, Robinson's campaign's communications director in a statement to Denver7.
When he submitted the petition in March, Robinson told Colorado Politics: “We’re proud to have taken our time with this process, and to have done it the right way.”
Robinson’s signature gathering operation had already been in the news in recent weeks, as Dustin Olson of the Signature Gathering Company, which was gathering signatures for Robinson’s campaign, secretly recorded a man working for Stapleton’s campaign making questionable claims about their operation.
That phone call eventually led to Stapleton ordering the secretary of state’s office to toss out all of his petitions, which he said had been fraudulently gathered by Kennedy Enterprises. That's why he opted to get on the ballot through the assembly process instead.
Olson said at the time that he was trying to “raise the level of integrity in the process” of signature gathering by raising concerns about Kennedy Enterprises.
Denver7 investigative reporter Ryan Luby spoke with Olson Friday afternoon. He joins the Robinson campaign in saying the secretary of state's office should not continue to hold duplicate signatures against Robinson -- signatures of people who decided to sign petitions for both Stapleton and Robinson -- since Stapleton chose not to use his petitions in the end.
"Robinson turned in more than enough good signatures from eligible Colorado voters that weren't counted, which is easily demonstrated, so he will definitely be on the ballot soon," Olson said in an emailed statement. "Clearly, when the Secretary of State uses fraudulent signatures, which were rightfully withdrawn, to throw out good signatures of Colorado citizens, you know the petitioning process in Colorado is broken and needs reformed."
There will likely be a hearing over the nuances of Robinson's signatures in coming days. For instance, the campaign will point out to a judge that the secretary of state's office invalidated signatures over small misinterpretations of a person's handwritten name or address -- sometimes a discrepancy over just one letter or one digit.
Upon learning Friday that Robinson’s petitions were not certified, Stapleton’s campaign manager, Michael Fortney, told Denver7: “Wow, don’t think there is much else to add.”
Mitchell submitted a total of 26,839 signatures, and had 14,515 deemed valid. He is now the third Republican to make the primary ballot, along with Stapleton and Lopez.
On the Democratic side, Mike Johnston successfully petitioned onto the ballot, and Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis both qualified for the ballot at last week’s assembly. Donna Lynne has submitted her petitions to the secretary of state’s office for review, which is ongoing.
The primary ballots will be set by April 27 ahead of the June 26 primaries. In a recent Magellan Strategies poll of likely Republican primary voters, about 8 percent said they would support Robinson if he made the ballot, and about 5 percent said they'd support Mitchell.
This is a developing news story; stay with Denver7 for updates.