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Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty to seek primary ballot through caucus process

Author: Ernest Luning - January 10, 2018 - Updated: January 10, 2018

Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty visits at the Denver Democratic Party’s annual Edward M. Kennedy dinner on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, at the Mariott Denver Downtown. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Democrat Michael Dougherty, a prosecutor and one of five Democrats running for attorney general, said Wednesday he plans to seek a spot on Colorado’s June primary ballot through the caucus and assembly process.

“For me, the decision was an easy one,” he told Colorado Politics in a statement. “I have seen first-hand the enthusiasm across our state to elect Democrats up and down the ticket. There is a lot at stake this year, particularly for the office of attorney general.”

Major party candidates can gain access to the primary ballot two ways — by winning the support of at least 30 percent of delegates to party assemblies or by petitioning on, a process that could be enormously expensive this year in crowded primary races. For a statewide office, petitioners must gather at least 1,500 signatures from fellow party members in each of the state’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500.

Dougherty, the assistant district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties and a former top prosecutor in the attorney general’s office, said that his campaign is built for winning delegates — “Delegates for Dougherty” is the slogan his campaign intends to use to brand the drive.

“The caucus allows candidates to stand in front of party members to talk about their vision and answer tough questions. This race isn’t about who has the most money or political connections. It comes down to who has the will and experience required to lead and protect Colorado. Throughout this campaign, I have been engaging our voters and listening to their concerns. Not only am I not afraid to answer tough questions and discuss specific issues, I believe that is how this process should be. I have experience that money just can’t buy. I look forward to sharing my experience and vision with the women and men who attend this year’s caucus and assemblies,” he said in a statement.

Here’s Dougherty’s pitch in a brief campaign video.

The caucus process kicks off at 7 p.m. on March 6 in roughly 2,000 precincts across the state, where Democrats and Republicans meet at schools, homes, churches and other community gathering places to conduct party business and elect delegates to higher assemblies, including county and state. This year, both parties are holding their state assemblies on April 14.

Candidates who are petitioning can start gathering signatures on Jan. 16 and have until March 20 to return them. New this year, election officials will be checking whether voter signatures match those on file, following a scandal that involved forgery and a dead voter in 2016.

The primary election is June 26.

Also new this year, the state’s unaffiliated voters will receive ballots for both major parties’ primaries in the mail and be able to vote one of them without having to join either party.

The other Democrats running for attorney general are state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton; former University of Colorado Law School Dean Phil Weiser; Denver attorney Brad Levin; and Amy Padden, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado.

George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District attorney, is the only Republican in the race. The incumbent, Republican Cynthia Coffman, declared in November she was joining the GOP’s crowded primary 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.