CO Supreme Court Rules GOP Rep. Shouldn’t Be On Republican Primary Ballot

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Group

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) should be excluded from the 2018 congressional primary ballot because petition circulators he’d hired through a third party to collect signatures for ballot placement were not technically residents of Colorado.

“We reverse the district court’s ruling that [signature collector Ryan] Tipple is a resident of Colorado,” the court’s decision read in part. “The district court improperly focused on Tipple’s stated future intent to move to Colorado, rather than considering whether Tipple presently has a primary or principal place of abode in Colorado to which he intends to return, as confirmed by objective indicia of such residency.”

Earlier this month, five Republican residents of El Paso County, CO filed a lawsuit against Colorado’s secretary of state alleging several signature-collectors for Lamborn didn’t actually reside in Colorado, despite being registered to vote there.

Denver District Court Judge Judge Brian Whitney, in a ruling from the bench, threw out 58 signatures from one circulator, Jeffrey Carter, but kept the rest, leaving Lamborn with enough valid signatures—more than 1,000—to qualify for the ballot. The plaintiffs appealed to the state’s supreme court.

That court ruled Monday that Tipple, another of the circulators named in the lawsuit, was not a Colorado resident.

A spokesperson for the Colorado secretary of state’s office, Lynn Bartels, published a statement from Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert indicating the office could pursue the case in federal court: “The Colorado Supreme Court just provided an avenue to have a federal judge strike the residency requirement for candidate circulators.”

“Federal court already has struck down a ruling that circulators for ballot measures must live in state,” Staiert added. “A sitting congressman was just knocked off the ballot without a vote of the people.”

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