Colorado businessman Doug Robinson announced Tuesday that he’s aiming to petition onto the GOP gubernatorial primary ballot, joining his Republican competitor Victor Mitchell in trying to secure 1,500 Republican signatures from each of Colorado’s seven Congressional districts.
In an email to supporters, Robinson asked for help:
“Would you be willing to help us by carrying a petition and gathering signatures from your fellow Republicans?
“If so,” Robinson’s email continued, “you can sign up to help here.”
If you click through, you find yourself looking at a job offer for the position of “petition circulator,” paying “$20/hr + additional compensation if you are willing to become a notary.”
In deciding to gather signatures to access the primary ballot, Robinson, who is Mitt Romney’s nephew, is choosing not to subject himself to a vote of Republican activists at the GOP General Assembly meeting in April. In recent elections, GOP assemblies, in particular, have been dominated by anti-establishment delegates.
In this case, Robinson is also sidestepping competition and conflict with Republicans who will be on the ballot at the assembly: Former Co-Chair of the Colorado Trump Campaign, Steve Barlock, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter, Former Parker mayor Greg Lopez, and former Congressman Tom Tancredo.
At the assembly, a candidate must get 30 percent of the vote to advance to the primary, and those with less than 10 percent are eliminated from the race entirely, even if they gather enough petitions to qualify for the primary ballot.
Hence, it’s safer to petition on the primary ballot, if you have the $250,000 or so dollars it apparently requires to do so, say campaign strategists.
But there are downsides to the petition process, even if you have the money.
You may earn less respect from grassroots activists in your party, losing votes in the primary and campaign volunteers.
And your absence may allow your competitors to reach the 30 percent threshold easier, because you won’t be taking votes from them.
These complicating factors may explain why GOP gubernatorial candidates Walker Stapleton and Cynthia Coffman have yet to announce if they’ll attempt to qualify for the primary ballot via petition, signatures, or both. They may be waiting to see what move their competitors make.
As for the petition process itself, just finding enough people to gather signatures can be “really tough,” says Democratic campaign strategist Steve Welchert.
This may explain why the job description for petition circulators for Robinson reads, “We believe in second chances and will consider all qualified applicants” (though a background check is required).
It can be hard to find eligible voters to sign petitions, given the rule that only voters “who
have not signed any other petition for any other candidate for the same office may sign the petition.”
Robinson’s job description for the signature-gatherer position is located on the website of “The Signature Gathering Co,” which is also being used by Brian Watson, who’s running for state treasurer.