Rock: The race is on to November elections; what happens next in Colorado? (column) | VailDaily.com

Rock: The race is on to November elections; what happens next in Colorado? (column)

Joanne M. Rock
Valley Voices

In January of this year, The Denver Post reported that the top issues of the first 2018 Colorado Legislative session (Jan. 10 to May 9) included not only Public Employees' Retirement Association solvency, sexual harassment, transportation funding, opioid abuse, public services in rural areas and oil and gas regulation; it also advised to keep an eye out for those campaigns for statewide offices.

The article said to expect that there would be significant competition among current lawmakers and officeholders, particularly for the governor's office, as current Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited and is now wrapping up his second term.

The major party primaries were held on Tuesday, June 26, and each party offered four gubernatorial candidates, who gained access to the primary ballot either through being selected by their party's nominating process or through petitioning onto the ballot.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and Republican candidate Walker Stapleton each received the most votes from their respective parties and will be the candidates represented on the ballot in November for those major parties.

Last I checked, there are two more gubernatorial candidates hoping to gain access to the November ballot, and if they can submit the requisite number of valid signatures on petitions to the Secretary of State by Thursday, July 12, then they will join Polis and Stapleton.

There is one more way for a potential candidate to gain access to the November ballot, and that is as a write-in candidate. A candidate wishing to go this route must comply with the same disclosures and filings that the Secretary of State requires of all the other candidates, regardless of how one pursues office.

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Colorado's election process and political season are similar to how most states historically and currently conduct primaries, and by evolution, this system now favors our two current major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties.

Lesser-known and smaller membership minority parties have existed in the past and also exist now, and there is an increasing percent of the registered voters around the country, including here in Colorado, who are unaffiliated but who often refer to themselves as Independents.

These unaffiliated voters were allowed to vote in either the Democratic or Republican Primary on Tuesday, June 26. They were not required to change party affiliation prior to and after voting and are free to vote however they choose on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the general election.

This is clearly a step in the right direction. So while allowing "legally registered unaffiliated voters" the right to vote in primaries this year for the first time in Colorado's history is arguably a much fairer process that permits more of the electorate to be counted early, have these changes actually impacted the voters' choice in the pool of candidates?

There are still significant advantages major-party establishment candidates have over challengers. For example, to be begin, whether desirable or not, there is no organized, lesser-known singular or collective minority party now holding any pre-primary assembly/caucus party qualification round.

Those establishment candidates who opted to petition onto their parties' primary ballots are not required to have their lieutenant governor running mate approved by the Secretary of State in advance of getting their petition forms approved by the Secretary of State as a condition of collecting signatures by petition. That is not the case with an independent candidate, who must have a lieutenant governor running mate candidate pre-approved and listed on the petition forms prior to obtaining the requisite number of validated signatures.

While it is true that the numbers of signatures required to petition onto the November ballot is lower for those unaffiliated candidates, as compared to those major-party candidates, who need to petition onto their parties' primary ballots, establishment candidates have a much longer time period to obtain those signatures, while the unaffiliated candidates have a much shorter, truncated collection period of only May 17 to July 12.

Write-in candidates have until Thursday, July 19, to get running mates approved by the Secretary of State but are not required to get a minimum number of signatures prior to or as a condition of being placed on the November ballot.

So while that may seem easy, the candidate must first make a very sober and important decision early on by asking the right candidate to join them in their campaign, someone they trust that will help them accomplish the priorities they hope to advance for the people of this state at this time. Then that team must work very hard and make a genuine effort to share their vision for needed changes to the electorate in the ensuing months to win in the fall. Then the even harder work begins: actually getting something done.

The Western Colorado Independent Voters will be meeting at the Garfield County Library on Thursday, July 12, to discuss issues related to the upcoming election and election reform.

Eagle County resident Joanne M. Rock is pursuing elected office in November as an independent candidate.