In a stunning decision, Colorado’s highest court ruled six-term incumbent GOP congressman Doug Lamborn should not appear on the June 26 primary ballot.
For 12 years, Lamborn, a conservative politician backed heavily by car dealers, Koch Industries and the defense industry, has represented one of the most heavily Republican parts of the country in a district anchored by Colorado Springs that includes five military installations and a network of religious nonprofits.
At issue was how the Republican incumbent, who faces a multi-candidate primary, chose to try and get on the ballot. He could have gone through the grassroots assembly process and attempted to earn more than 30 percent of the vote among delegates, but he instead chose to try and gather 1,000 valid signatures from Republican voters within his district and petition directly onto the ballot.
His effort was challenged, however, when five constituents brought a lawsuit against the Secretary of State for certifying Lamborn’s petitions. They argued Lamborn’s campaign hired a company that contracted with petition circulators who did not technically live in Colorado at the time they tried to persuade enough Republicans to sign petitions for Lamborn. Petition circulators must be Colorado residents.
A lower court in the lawsuit ruled earlier this month that Lamborn had enough signatures to get on the ballot, but the plaintiffs in the case appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court. In its ruling today, the state’s highest court said the lower court was wrong to rule Lamborn should be on the ballot.
The Supreme Court noted that one of the signature gatherers for Lamborn earlier testified that he owned two cars in California, works there, was registered to vote there, had a driver’s license there— and not in Colorado— and bought a round-trip plane ticket to Colorado where he stayed with his in-laws while gathering petition signatures for Lamborn.
The High Court noted that as “a practical matter, the Secretary’s office is not equipped to further investigate residency or other requirements” after doing a paper review of a petition circulator’s voter registration. The plaintiffs in this case went to court to dig deeper on the residency issue. The court ruled the circulator in question who collected signatures for Lambon did not meet the state’s residency laws.