Off Limits

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Swimming upstream: Colorado's third-party candidates are also working with a blank slate now that the elections are over, but they plan to paint a new picture in the coming year by working together. And so members of the state's four official minor parties -- Reform, Libertarian, Green and Natural Law -- will hold a summit on January 13 at the Denver Press Club to explore how their interests intersect.

The confab was the brainchild of Colorado Reform Party chairman Victor Good, who saw how well the parties worked together at an October 25 protest outside the Rocky Mountain News, which had ignored minor-party candidates in its voters' guide. Although the original intent of this Saturday's summit was to discuss the possibility of a minor-party primary in which the four parties would run against each other, then send the winners on to compete against Democrats and Republicans, that concept didn't get a very good response. So now, while the primary possibility is still slated for discussion, Libertarian Party state chairwoman Bette Rose Smith says the main topics will be legislative and statewide access issues: how to keep the state legislature from raising the number of signatures needed for third parties to get on the ballot, and how to make voter registration forms more friendly to third parties (those registering are currently given a choice between Republican, Democrat, Unaffiliated and Other).

"I'd really like to see what we can do together," Smith says. "Even if we are opposed to each other on some issues, it doesn't mean we can't work together on those things that we agree on."

Good agrees, explaining that the contacts the parties made during the News protest have already led to this summit. "It should be the beginning of many more to come," he says. "If we ever want to threaten the major-party duopoly, we have to come together in some form."

Guest speakers will include state senator Ron Tupa, Colorado secretary of state election division chief Bill Compton and Denver Post senior political reporter Fred Brown.

Who won't be there? The News, says Good, but not because of any hard feelings over its voters' guide. "That's just the way it worked out," he says. "The News doesn't have anyone comparable to Fred Brown. He's an authority in the political arena."

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