It’s time for Colorado Republicans to put the bungling behind them and unite behind Bob Beauprez. Holtzman came up 743 signatures short (despite the Denver Post‘s faulty math) – though there’s sure to be a recount in the coming days. The Secretary of State certifies the primary ballot by next Friday.
What do I mean by “bungling”? First and most obvious, the Holtzman campaign’s ground game. Expecting more than 40% at the State Assembly, they were shocked to find out they only got 28% and didn’t make the ballot that way. More recently, Holtzman’s team turned in 21,000 petition signatures but had a high rate of rejection. It would appear the names or signatures were not given careful scrutiny – a big no-no.
Second, and to a lesser extent, the Republican state party’s handling of the Holtzman debacles. Chairman Bob Martinez overstepped his bounds and unnecessarily fueled the underdog’s “anti-establishment” fire by calling on him to drop out of the race. While some narrow, diehard and disaffected Holtzman supporters may believe the state GOP “machine” is out to crush them, the sad truth is that the party’s apparent problems stem more from incompetence than conspiratorial mischief. That includes the State Assembly, and how the new credentialing and voting procedures were implemented.
Maybe Holtzman could have been the guy to turn the state GOP leadership into a well-oiled, effective machine. But the way his own campaign has operated now gives observers reason to doubt that. Especially when your brand-new (and maybe shortest-lived ever) campaign manager gives the following quote to one of the two biggest newspapers in the state:
Bob Gould, who began as Holtzman’s campaign manager last week, said the lack of signatures was not the fault of the Holtzman campaign. Gould said the problem could be errors made by the people validating the signatures, including many temporary workers hired by the secretary of state.
Gould also said valid signatures could have been thrown out because the person who circulated the petitions had only recently registered as a Republican – another requirement on a candidate’s petitions.
Like his boss, Gould vowed to fight.
“I can tell you our approach is going to be a scorched-earth policy,” Gould said. [emphasis added]
Sigh. Memo to the Holtzman team: Go ahead and challenge the results line by line. The burden of proof rests with you. If that doesn’t work, file a challenge in court with your anti-TABOR, pro-union Democrat lawyer. If that doesn’t work, run an “us-against-the-world” write-in August primary campaign. If that doesn’t work, run as an independent. Then hope for a spot in Governor Ritter’s cabinet.
Each further step that Holtzman takes down this road of self-aggrandizement only loses that much more hope of future good will among fellow Colorado Republicans of good will. It’s time to listen to some common sense. Let’s put the bungling behind us and focus on keeping the governor’s office in GOP hands come November.
And maybe the rest of us can spend a little less time dealing with politics during the beautiful Colorado summer.
Update: Should have checked my email inbox first. Here’s the account from the Holtzman campaign that wasn’t covered in the papers this morning:
According to the notice sent to us tonight, over 4,000 names were thrown out immediately – that is to say, without even looking at the voter rolls. There are a couple of reasons this might occur: (1) the notary was insufficient or (2) the “circulator” of the petition was not correctly registered as a Republican with the Colorado Secretary of State.
We believe, as of now, the later [sic] has occurred.
Though we had thousands of signatures collected by volunteers, later in the process, we also had professional petitioners assisting us in certain congressional districts.
That firm has assured us all of their petitioners were registered republican voters, however, if those folks were newly registered, that voter information would not yet be registered with our Secretary of State.
We are in the process of validating the voter information of the professional gatherers (through local Clerk and Recorder offices), and believe our challenge will be found successful in the next few days.
Or the professional petition-gathering group may have dropped the ball. We’ll have to wait and see if the Holtzman campaign has a legitimate case here … there may be more to this story than meets the eye.