Events in the Senate District 22 GOP intraparty contest to replace recently-resigned Senator Norma Anderson (see earlier posts here and here) just took another twist. Mike Kopp, one of the candidates who lost out to Kathleen “Kiki” Traylor in the Vacancy Committee’s Saturday decision to replace Anderson (Barb Neville and Guy Heil were the others), has filed a formal complaint with the Secretary of State alleging the procedure was handled illegally. I obtained a copy of Kopp’s press release, which is also reprinted in full at the Dead Governors’ site:
State Senate District 22 Candidate Mike Kopp notified the Secretary of State’s office today that the vacancy committee for SD22 failed to meet its statutory requirements. According to official documents released by the Senate District 22 Vacancy Committee, it did not give six days notice before meeting January 7.
Colorado law requires a minimum of six days notice before a legislative vacancy committee may meet to select a replacement for a vacant seat. Kopp’s attorney, Scott Gessler stated, “It is obvious that the law was violated.”
According to Gessler, the call of the Senate District 22 Vacancy Committee was sent out to committee members on Tuesday, January 3, four days before the meeting instead of the statutorily mandated six days.
Kopp said, “One thing I’ve learned from observing former Senator Anderson is that the process is more important than the person. The rank-and-file Republicans of Senate District 22 should not be harmed by a hurried secret meeting.” According to Gessler, the vacancy cannot certify a replacement for Anderson and the remedy is to have the governor appoint Anderson’s replacement.
This action strikes me as nothing less than politically imprudent. Whether true or not, having submitted his name to the Vacancy Committee and come up short, Kopp gives the appearance of being a sore loser. Kopp was unavailable for further comment on his decision, though I will be glad to update the post with any clarifying remarks he may wish to share. His primary opponent Justin Everett, who took the high road and chose to bypass the committee, said:
Look at this mess over the Vacancy Committee. You have a Senator that’s been there too long picking her successor and now you have Republicans suing Republicans. We went down this road with County Commissioner Rick Sheehan last year. Enough is enough! It’s time for new blood and a fresh start.
A new article in the Evergreen Canyon Courier has allegedly misstated a fact surrounding the replacement process. According to the article, Everett filed paperwork with the Vacancy Committee for consideration, a claim that the candidate vehemently denies and for which has already sought a printed correction. Everett sent me a scanned copy of the article in question (at time of posting the story was not available on the Web site), which I have uploaded here.
Stay tuned, because the saga doesn’t appear to be over in south Jeffco. Everett once again deserves to be applauded for rising above the fray of the Vacancy Committee.
Update: Mike Kopp has offered the following extended comment about his decision:
Citizens rightly expect integrity at every step in the election process. The vacancy committee did not follow fairly basic state law and I owed it to my supporters to take a stand.
On each of the legal and ethical merits, he well may be correct. What will result from the complaint? We’ll have to wait and see. But Kopp will have to work hard to fight the perception that the complaint was generated by “sour grapes.” All the GOP candidates in this race would do best to focus most on the upcoming election process, starting with the Caucus Meetings on March 21.