Cynthia Coffman ‘weighing all options’ to qualify for GOP gubernatorial primary ballot

Author: Ernest Luning - February 8, 2018 - Updated: February 8, 2018

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. (Courtesy photo)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is gathering petition signatures in hopes of landing a spot on the Republican primary ballot for governor, but she’s also considering going through the caucus and assembly process, a campaign spokeswoman told Colorado Politics Wednesday.

“The campaign is still weighing all options,” Coffman aide Keeley Hanlon wrote in an email.

A week earlier, Hanlon said Coffman, one of nine declared GOP candidates for governor, “remains committed to petitioning onto the ballot,” but Coffman raised the possibility she might switch course in a radio interview on Saturday in the wake of Tom Tancredo’s sudden withdrawal from the primary race.

Tancredo, a former congressman and by some measures the frontrunner in the Republican primary, had been the only major candidate pursuing the nomination through assembly.

Asked Saturday by 710KNUS host Craig Silverman whether she might switch gears, Coffman insisted she was gathering signatures but said she was considering also going through caucuses and assembly and would decide within days.

“You know, I am — I have petition signature gatherers out in the field, and they are hard at work,” Coffman told Silverman. “It may be with Tom’s exit from the race that I decide to do both the assembly and petitioning. But we are making that decision this weekend.”

Pressed by Silverman over whether she has “sufficient resources” to mount a statewide petition drive — for gubernatorial candidates this year, political pros say it’ll cost around $250,000, roughly three times the money Coffman had in the bank at the end of the last reporting period — Coffman said she was “in good shape.”

“Well, you know, the fact that they’re out there doing it for me now should tell you that I have paid them something and they believe that I’m good for the rest of the money and I won’t let them go without being paid, that’s not my style, so we’re in good shape,” she said.

Silverman was referencing a Colorado Politics story published Friday that quoted leading Republican consultants who have managed successful statewide petition drives in recent cycles.

While Tancredo had been planning to get on the June 26 primary ballot via the April 14 state assembly — it takes the support of at least 30 percent of delegates, chosen at March 6 precinct caucuses and county assemblies later next month — three other Republicans are petitioning onto the ballot.

For a statewide candidate, that requires 10,500 valid signatures, 1,500 from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. Candidates could start circulating petitions on Jan. 16 and have until March 20 to turn them in.

When Coffman announced in January that she planned to petition her way onto the primary ballot rather than go through assembly, she said she had chosen the method because it worked best with her demanding job as attorney general.

“The petitioning process will allow me to balance my time between the campaign trail and serving the people of Colorado in my current role as the state’s attorney general,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my travel around the state and engaging with voters from urban, rural and suburban Colorado.”

Coffman’s three petitioning rivals — State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, former state lawmaker and entrepreneur Victor Mitchell and former investment banker Doug Robinson, who is also Mitt Romney’s nephew — were gathering signatures for a week by the time Coffman’s petition was approved, and they all had at least five times as much cash on hand as she did at the beginning of January.

Spokespersons for Stapleton, Mitchell and Robinson all told Colorado Politics this week that their candidates are definitely not considering going the caucus and assembly route following Tancredo’s departure.

The Republicans who are include former Denver County Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III. Two other GOP candidates, Jim Rundberg and Teri Kear, have also filed to run for governor.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.