Whatever other cataclysmic events befell Colorado between the time this paper went to bed (Monday night) and hit the streets (sometime after the polls closed on Tuesday), if Dan Maes, the Colorado Republican Party's gubernatorial candidate, garnered under 10 percent of the vote, as predicted, then the Republican Party is now a minor party in this state. That means it will share bottom-rung status with the Libertarian Party (which got its start in Colorado almost forty years ago, then spread across the country) and the Prohibition Party (which got its start here under Earl Dodge and never really spread much of anywhere) and a host of other also-rans. Meanwhile, by collecting more than 10 percent of the vote, Tom Tancredo will have automatically elevated the American Constitution Party to major-party status — a nice prize for a very minor group willing to ditch its original candidate in order to accommodate Tancredo's last-minute run.
Assuming it becomes a minor party, Republican Party candidates will be much more constricted in the amount they can raise: Major parties are allowed to collect donations right up to the cap for both the primary and the general election; minor-party candidates can hit the cap only once. And as a minor-party candidate, anyone who'd like to run as a Republican will need far fewer signatures to get on the ballot. As reported in the October 14 Off Limits, a major-party candidate for governor needs to get 1,500 signatures from each of the seven districts in order to petition onto the ballot. But a minor-party candidate need only collect the signatures of 1,000 voters from across the state. And the petition requirements for minor-party candidates for the Statehouse are even lower, which means that the Republican Party could have a really wild roster of candidates the next round. Candidates who make Dan Maes look, well, minor-league as a wacko.
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And then there's the issue of state boards and commissions, which all have their own statutes dictating the makeup of the commission. The rules for the Plumbers' Board, which is under the Department of Regulatory Agencies, states that "there will be no more than one member from a major political party on the board at the same time," notes Chris Lines, DORA spokesman, which means that a lot of Republicans could become minor functionaries with a focus on fixing toilets. Still, Lines adds, that plumber requirement is the exception rather than the rule, and "there should be no sweeping changes if the Republican Party drops to minor-party status."
But then, politicians have just begun to look at the real results of this election. For example, the next Colorado Legislature will be responsible for a reapportionment of both congressional and state legislative districts — which could present an opportunity for major mischief for major and minor parties alike.
While the Colorado Secretary of State's office is in charge of counting signatures, it isn't responsible for boards or reapportionment. But after the past crazy campaign series, it's pushing for one bill: "We are going to be moving for legislation to move the primary up from August to about June," says spokesman Rich Coolidge. There's just not enough time between the August primary and the federally mandated deadline for sending ballots to the military overseas to allow for any strange permutations on the ballot.
And strangeness abounded this year.