There are two ways for a statewide candidate to get on the Colorado ballot, and Representative Jared Polis is following both in his bid to become the Democratic candidate for governor in 2018: He'll collect petition signatures and go through the caucus and state assembly.
"Caucusing and petitioning allows Jared to continue talking with as many Coloradans as possible, participate fully in the democratic process, and share his bold vision in every Colorado community," according to a statement announcing a Polis caucusing phone bank in Aurora on January 4.
“This truly is a people-powered campaign, and I'm so grateful to have earned the support of so many Coloradans," Polis added.
And with this year's crowded field, a candidate will need the support of a lot of Coloradans to become the final candidate.
Colorado's precinct caucuses are set for March 6; the last day to sign up as a Democrat or Republican in order to participate in these caucuses is January 8. Among other responsibilities, precinct caucuses nominate delegates to county assemblies. County assemblies then designate candidates for state primary elections and select delegates for the state assembly. Finally, on April 14, state assemblies will nominate candidates for statewide offices to the primary election ballot; this year's primary is set for June 26.
But candidates also have the option of collecting at least 10,500 signatures from members of their party across the state in order to qualify for the ballot. Signatures are due at the secretary of state's office on March 20, three weeks before the Democrat and Republican state assemblies.
"If you didn't make it at the assembly and have enough signatures, you can still get on the ballot," says Colorado Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Bartels. "The number of people we end up calling senator or representative or whatever who initially petition on is pretty amazing," she adds, citing past candidates like Tom Tancredo and Walker Stapleton as examples.
Petitioning could also give candidates in a crowded field the advantage. A Republican or Democrat vying for a spot on a ballot must be nominated by 30 percent of the delegates at state assemblies. "If you have eight people trying to get on, it's not going to happen," Bartels says.
In December, Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne became the first gubernatorial candidate to announce that she was petitioning onto the ballot to replace term-limited governor John Hickenlooper. Only Polis and Republican candidate Teri Kear have followed suit.
Lynne explained her decision in a statement in December: “Petitioning onto the ballot reflects my commitment to inclusiveness, which is the best approach to electing another Democrat to continue the success we’ve seen under Gov. (John) Hickenlooper.”
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