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Democrat David Aarestad plans to petition onto 6th Congressional District primary ballot

Author: Ernest Luning - January 25, 2018 - Updated: January 25, 2018

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Aurora attorney David Aarestad is one of four Democrats challenging U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District in the 2018 election. (Courtesy David Aarestad)

Aurora attorney David Aarestad, one of four Democrats running for the chance to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, is collecting signatures to petition onto the June primary ballot, although he might also go through the caucus and assembly process, his campaign confirmed Wednesday.

“Everybody should be able to participate in the electoral process, regardless of their ability to attend a long evening event,” Aarestad told Colorado Politics in a statement. “This includes parents without childcare options, retirees who can’t drive at night, people working second and third shifts, those facing long-term illness or even the flu. Petitioning is a great way to connect with voters who are feeling disenfranchised. As a Democrat, I strive to be as inclusive as possible, and petitioning is a part of our grassroots outreach.”

Aarestad said Thursday his campaign hasn’t made a final decision on whether to try to qualify for the ballot by seeking delegate support through caucuses and assembly.

Major party congressional candidates can qualify for the June 26 primary two ways — by submitting 1,000 valid signatures by the March 20 deadline or by getting the support of at least 30 percent of delegates to congressional district assemblies, a process that starts at March 6 precinct caucuses.

Petitioning onto the statewide ballot — it takes 10,500 valid signatures from every corner of the state — can be expensive, with firms charging in the neighborhood of $200,000 to run a petition drive, but strategists say congressional candidates with volunteer organizations in place can usually gather the required 1,000 signatures.

An Aarestad campaign spokeswoman told Colorado Politics his campaign volunteers had already started collecting signatures.

“Fortunately, (he) does not need to hire a firm to collect petition signatures — he has already garnered a good group of grassroot activists to help him out,” Jennifer Donovan said.

None of the other candidates running for the seat have had petition formats approved by state election officials, according to the Colorado secretary of state’s office.

The other Democrats running for the battleground seat are Jason Crow, an attorney and Army Ranger veteran; Levi Tillemann, a clean power expert who worked with the Obama Department of Energy; and computer technician Erik Stanger, a recent entrant in the race.

Coffman, an Army and Marine Corps veteran, is facing a primary challenge from conservative activist Roger Edwards.

CORRECTION: Aarestad made clear his campaign hasn’t ruled out going through the caucus and assembly process.

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.