Election 2018GovernorNews

Doug Robinson is on the ballot in GOP gubernatorial primary

Author: Ernest Luning - April 25, 2018 - Updated: April 26, 2018

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson talks with supporters after participating in a 9News debate on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at the Lakewood Cultural Center. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

A Denver District Court declared Wednesday afternoon that businessman Doug Robinson has qualified for the Republican gubernatorial primary ballot just five days after state officials ruled he didn’t submit enough signatures on his nominating petitions.

Judge Ross Buchanan accepted an agreement reached between Robinson and Secretary of State Wayne Williams allowing Williams to count 40 signatures his staff had previously determined didn’t match voter records. That was more than enough to make up the 22-signature shortfall Robinson had faced in the 2nd Congressional District.

Candidates for governor had to turn in 1,500 signatures of voters registered with the candidate’s political party from each of the state’s seven congressional district, for a total of 10,500.

Williams said on Friday that 11,343 of the 17,391 signatures Robinson submitted were valid, but he missed the mark in the 2nd District, which includes Boulder and Larimer counties and climbs into the mountains along Interstate 70 to Vail.

The Robinson campaign and secretary of state staff agreed that 40 signatures previously ruled inadmissible met the “substantial compliance” standard upon closer examination and, in some instances, a little detective work.

The discrepancies involved voters with poor handwriting, as well as some who transposed numbers in their addresses and others who listed their post office boxes rather than their street addresses, according to court documents.

In each case, the voter’s signature matched the ones on file with state officials.

“I want to express my thanks and appreciation to the staff at the Secretary of State’s office for going above and beyond to correct those signatures that were improperly rejected,” Robinson told Colorado Politics.

“If we’ve learned anything this cycle, it’s that half of the rules governing this process are unenforceable, and the other half are so vague they require the constant intervention of the courts. Clearly, it’s time for some reform.”

Robinson, a retired investment banker and the nephew of Mitt Romney, becomes the fourth official Republican candidate for governor, joining State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell. Mail ballots are delivered to voters in the first week of June and are due back June 26.

Michael Francisco, the Colorado Springs-based election law attorney who represented Robinson, applauded the ruling.

“I was privileged to represent Mr. Robinson in this case to ensure his access to the primary ballot and make sure everything was completed in full compliance with Colorado law,” Francisco told Colorado Politics.

Francisco has been in the news recently as the attorney representing a group of Republican voters trying to remove U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn from the primary ballot, charging that some of the people hired to circulate his petitions weren’t Colorado residents, as state law requires.

The Colorado Supreme Court sided with Francisco’s clients on Monday and ruled Lamborn didn’t qualify for the ballot. The Republican, who is serving his sixth term in Congress, plans to file a separate case in federal court as early as Wednesday in hopes of reversing the order.

Two weeks ago, Stapleton asked Williams to reject the petitions he’d already approved because Stapleton said he discovered some of his signatures might have been gathered fraudulently — by circulators employed by the same firm Lamborn hired to manage his petition drive.

Stapleton instead mounted a last-minute campaign for delegate support at the state GOP assembly and wound up winning top-line designation for the primary.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited. Four Democrats are running in their party’s primary: former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, state Sen. Mike Johnston and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne.

The secretary of state is scheduled to certify the primary ballot by April 27.

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.