Republican Senate candidate Jane Norton, surrounded by a dozen or so t-shirt clad campaign supporters, submitted petitions with more than 35,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office Wednesday, more than three times the number required to secure a spot on the August primary ballot.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office said it would take about a week to verify signatures to determine whether Norton qualifies to run against Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who was nominated last weekend at the Republican state assembly in Loveland. The winner of the GOP primary will face the winner of a Democratic contest between incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet and his challenger, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
About one third of the signatures were gathered by volunteers, the Norton campaign said. The rest were gathered by a company hired by the campaign.
Colorado law requires statewide candidates seeking the primary ballot via petition to gather 10,500 valid signatures — in Norton’s case, from Republicans — with 1,500 from each of the state’s seven congressional districts. The Norton campaign said its petitions included more than twice the number required from each congressional district.
“Today is a great day for our campaign,” Norton said Wednesday in a statement. “Today we submitted more than 35,000 signatures from every corner of the state, and more than 60 counties. These signatures will allow my name to be placed on the Republican primary ballot. The signatures will also form the foundation of our campaign — and fellow Coloradans, this is a campaign we are going to win.”
Norton drew criticism from fellow Republicans in April when she announced she’d be skipping the
state assembly to petition onto the ballot. She placed second behind Buck in a preference poll at precinct caucuses in March. State GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams barred Norton from participating in the state assembly after she announced her petition drive.
Another Republican Senate candidate, former state Sen. Tom Wiens, had also decided to petition onto the ballot. Early last week, Wiens announced he was withdrawing from the race and endorsing Buck. While he told The Statesman his campaign had gathered sufficient signatures to make the ballot, he decided against turning them in.
Bennet’s campaign announced late last week it had gathered more than 20,000 signatures — enough, a campaign spokesman said, to make the ballot with signatures to spare — but wouldn’t be turning them in because the Democratic state assembly had already nominated him to the primary ballot last weekend. Party rules allowed Bennet to field a petition while still pursuing nomination through the assembly process, unlike rules forbidding both methods on the Republican side.
“Because the outcome would remain the same, we appreciate that (the Bennet campaign) agreed with our request to abstain from submitting their petitions,” said Secretary of State spokesman Rich Coolidge in a statement released by the Bennet campaign. Colorado law requires the Secretary of State’s office to verify signatures if they’re submitted. The decision not to turn in petitions saves taxpayer dollars, the Bennet campaign said.