As Ernest Luning reported late Thursday for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:
Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor, has turned in petitions to qualify for the June primary but is considering also going through the assembly process — a move that could land him top-line designation on the ballot and potentially knock out the only other statewide elected official in the running, Colorado Politics has learned.
As results showing convincing Stapleton wins filter in from unofficial gubernatorial straw polls conducted in some counties at Tuesday night’s GOP precinct caucuses, his supporters have become increasingly convinced Stapleton could come out on top at the April 14 state assembly in Boulder and are urging him to take the plunge.
A source close to the Stapleton campaign said that the more the candidate is being encouraged to add the assembly route, the more he’s considering it.
Frankly, we’ve thought for a long time that this makes a lot of sense for Stapleton. It wouldn’t have been a good idea for Stapleton to contest the nomination at the assembly if Tom Tancredo were still a candidate for Republicans, but things are different now; the only other candidate with any name ID who is seeking to make the ballot through the assembly is Cynthia Coffman, and she is not well-liked among grassroots Republicans.
In fact, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Stapleton could keep Coffman off the ballot altogether with a strong assembly performance (unlike Stapleton, Coffman has abandoned the petition route and is “all in” with the GOP caucus). As Luning notes, this idea that is picking up traction among other Republicans:
“There’s virtually no risk of getting under 10 percent, and I think, based on the polling and what we’re hearing from the counties that conducted straw polls, Walker has strong delegate support,” said Ryan Lynch, who ran George Brauchler’s campaign until shortly before the Arapahoe County prosecutor switched to the attorney general’s race.
“There’s very little risk of not top-lining at assembly, based on the field. You have a lot to gain, too — you could keep Cynthia, the only other candidate with any level of name ID, off the ballot entirely by keeping her under 30 percent,” Lynch said. “This would enable Walker’s campaign to focus on his lesser-known primary opponents who are going the petition route and might even provide them with the ability to shift focus to the general election earlier than they’d anticipated.”
Stapleton has already submitted his petition signatures for ballot access and appears to have a solid lead among likely Republican primary voters. If he could do well enough among caucus-goers to keep Coffman off the ballot, it makes his path to the Republican nomination that much easier.