Vote’s outcome will yield new secretary of state for Colorado

Newcomers will occupy at least two of the four executive-branch Cabinet offices up for election today.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler chose not to run for a second term, instead opting to run, unsuccessfully, for the Republican primary for governor.

Vying to succeed Gessler are Democrat Joe Neguse of Boulder and Republican Wayne Williams of Colorado Springs.

Neguse is a regent for the University of Colorado, representing the 2nd Congressional District. When elected in 2008 at age 23, he was one of the youngest state elected officials.

Williams is the El Paso County clerk and recorder, a seat he won in 2010 after serving eight years as a county commissioner.

Neguse, a business attorney, pledges to restore integrity, transparency and accountability to the office — a dig at Gessler, who was blasted by Democrats for his past as a Republican elections attorney and for some of his controversies as secretary of state. Those include a ruling from the state Ethics Commission that Gessler violated state ethics laws by using taxpayer funds for partisan activities. Neguse reportedly has said he’s running to “clean up Scott Gessler’s mess.” The first-generation American son of African-born parents, he also cites his belief that “the right to vote is sacred.”

Neguse has set a fundraising record for the secretary of state’s race, bringing in more than $500,000 as of Oct. 27. More than $300,000 has gone for TV ads, a rarity in the down-ticket race.

As of Oct. 27, Williams had raised just over $240,000 — less than half of what’s in Neguse’s coffers — and so far has spent about $145,000 on TV ads.

Williams touts his record of running elections in multiple counties, including the 2013 recall election for then-Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and several recall elections in Teller and Saguache counties. He notes that the elections he has run have been in full compliance with state law. Williams also supports requiring voters to provide photo ID for elections.

Neguse snagged the endorsement of the Denver Post, which cited his firm grasp of Colorado elections law and support for the 2013 legislation (House Bill 13-1303) that allowed inactive voters to receive mail ballots. Williams has been endorsed by the Colorado Springs Gazette and Pueblo Chieftain, which lauded his organizational skills, experience and leadership, particularly in running elections during the 2012 wildfires and allowing the public to view ballot-counting.

Neguse and Williams debated each other in Grand Junction in July when Neguse pointed out that Williams had been endorsed by the ethically controversial Gessler.

The secretary of state ballot also includes a Libertarian, David Schambach of Englewood and Arvada resident Amanda Campbell of the American Constitution Party. Neither has reported raising money for the race.

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.