By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) – Republican gubernatorial candidates are accusing the party of putting their thumb on the scale for the party’s front-runner, setting the stage for a contentious assembly tomorrow.
On Tuesday, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton withdrew his petitions to get on the Republican primary ballot after many of the signatures were found to be fraudulent. Stapleton blamed the firm he hired to gather petitions and said he was a victim. He later announced he would instead attend the state assembly, where candidates need at least 30% of the party’s delegates to qualify for the ballot.
Getting on the ballot is a chess match of resources and time and Stapleton’s campaign at the assembly adds extra pressure to candidates who have less cash on hand and only choose to go through the state assembly process.
Barry Farah, a businessman running for governor, suggests that Stapleton’s family connection to George H. W. Bush is what’s getting him into the assembly.
“It’s hard to believe that a lesser equipped person would be able to have the rules changed for your benefit,” says Barry Farah. “It’s hard for me to believe that I could pull that off.”
Colorado law prohibits candidates from using both the petition process and the assembly to get onto the primary ballot.
On Wednesday the Colorado GOP responded to complaints of impropriety, stating that because Stapleton withdrew his petitions he would be allowed to use the assembly.
The petition fiasco is likely to become a central talking point in front of delegates. Farah says Stapleton’s handling of gathering his own petitions show that the State Treasurer is not prepared to be Colorado’s top executive.
“Does executive leadership matter? Yes, it does,” adds Farah. “You can make the case this way, that’s a $250k project that is mission critical and it didn’t work out. The state budget is $28 billion, 112-thousand times that size.”