The GOP race to face Democrat Michael Bennet for his seat in the U.S. Senate is shaping up— if slowly. The big Republican primary now has two frontrunners who snagged a coveted spot on the June ballot in two very different ways.
The first candidate is Darryl Glenn, a retired Air Force veteran, lawyer, and current El Paso County Commissioner, who stunned political observers when he shut out his six rivals at the April 9 Republican state convention. Glenn won 70 percent of the vote from the nearly 4,000 Republican activists who cast ballots for him during the convention. He only needed 30 percent to get out of the convention, but because he took so many votes he bumped out every other candidate who was running through that process.
The second candidate to make it on the ballot is Jack Graham of Fort Collins, a former quarterback for the Rams who spent a couple of years as Colorado State University’s athletic director. Graham got to the primary ballot in a different way. He petitioned on by gathering 1,500 signatures from Republicans in all seven congressional districts.
Today, the Secretary of State’s office said enough of them are valid for Graham’s name to officially grace the ballot.
An interesting tidbit about Graham’s petition drive: His campaign submitted 22,786 signatures and only 12,891 were valid. He only needed 10,500. This is important because it shows how many signatures were bunk, and also because he was the first candidate to turn them in he gets to keep more than 2,000 valid signatures from his other three rivals trying to petition onto the ballot themselves. That’s because two candidates can’t count the same person’s signature, and the the candidate who turns their petitions in first gets to claim that signature.
This year’s U.S. Senate primary is distinct from years past because so many candidates are running, and doing it so differently.
Because Graham collected so many signatures, he’s put some pressure on his three opponents, ex-state House Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison, Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha, or former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier. Depending on how well their campaigns did in the petition drive process, either they could all end up on the ballot or not.
The Secretary of State’s office is currently combing through their petitions to see if those candidates will qualify.
So what does this latest information mean for the race? It means there are two candidates who have shown they have competent campaigns and are telegraphing to Republican voters that they are the most well-positioned to take on a sitting incumbent U.S. Senator who has $7 million in the bank for an epic race this fall.
But even still, this race is very early yet.