Congressman Doug Lamborn will stay on primary ballot, judge rules after petition signature challenge

Posted at 4:04 PM, Apr 10, 2018

DENVER – Six-term Congressman Doug Lamborn will stay on the ballot for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District for the time being, a Denver District Court judge ruled Tuesday afternoon.

Judge Brian Whitney’s decision comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by five district Republicans against the secretary of state that called into question the validity of ballot signatures gathered by Lamborn’s campaign.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams approved Lamborn’s ballot petition earlier this year. He deemed 1,269 signatures gathered valid; Lamborn needed 1,000 to qualify for this year’s primary ballot.

But the plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued over half of the signatures were invalid because the circulators who gathered the signatures were not legal Colorado residents.

The question at hand was whether seven circulators were indeed legal Colorado residents. The secretary of state’s office testified that all of the circulators were found to have been legally-registered voters with the Republican Party in Colorado – both requirements under state law.

Michael Francisco, the attorney for the plaintiffs, had argued that the circulators all lived out of state and moved into a house in Thornton for the sole purpose of gathering signatures, and that they thus weren’t state residents.

After a day of testimony from the circulators and secretary of state’s office, the judge absolved the secretary of state’s office of neglect and of committing a wrongful act.

And while the judge said he did find that one of the signature gatherers did not intend to stay in Colorado, that gatherer was only responsible for 58 of the signatures – still keeping Lamborn above the necessary limit to qualify for the primary.

Francisco said he planned to appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court, which he has three days to do. The court will then decide whether or not it wants to take up the case.

”Everybody has to follow Colorado election’s rules, including the rules for circulators, and I don’t believe it’s a nitpicky case when the judge found one of the people didn’t qualify with Colorado’s rules and the other one was a very close call,” Francisco said.

Earlier in the day, Walker Stapleton withdrew from intervening in the case and had all of his signatures tossed by the secretary of state over what Stapleton said were “fraudulently” obtained signatures by Kennedy Enterprises, the same company that Lamborn used. Stapleton is now seeking to make the ballot through this weekend's state assembly.

Lamborn is likely to face a difficult primary challenge. Darryl Glenn has already qualified for the ballot by petition, and state Sen. Owen Hill has qualified for the ballot through the assembly. Two other Republicans, Bill Rhea and Tyler Stevens, have also submitted the nominating petitions, which are under review.

But his attorney, Ryan Call, said that Tuesday was a victory for the congressman.

“I can’t speak to what the campaign plans to do on future cycles, but at least this year, voters are going to be the ones who decided whether to send Congressman Doug Lamborn back or not, as opposed to lawyers and judges,” Call said.

This is a developing news story and will be updated. Stay with Denver7 for the latest.