Norton Going Petition Route: Bennet Made Me Do It!

UPDATE: Okay, this is weird. Norton confirms, and blames…Sen. Michael Bennet? From a press release (full release after the jump):

In the wake of a decision by appointed Senator Michael Bennet to begin gathering petitions to secure his place on the Democrat primary ballot, US Senate candidate Jane Norton will turn her focus to meeting with party activists and disaffected voters from across the political spectrum as her campaign begins a grassroots petition drive.

Uh, what in the hell does Bennet collecting petitions have to do with Norton collecting petitions? As we said below, there’s nothing wrong with collecting petitions (if you have the resources to do it), because it helps you develop a bigger list of potential supporters.

But there is a major difference here. Norton is bypassing the Convention process altogether now, while Bennet is not; he’s just doing both.

—–

As The Colorado Statesman reports:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck may find it a little lonely at his party’s state assembly on May 22. Former state Sen. Tom Wiens from Castle Rock, one of the three major candidates in the race, announced at the end of March that he’ll bypass the more traditional caucus-assembly route for ballot access and instead petition on.

Now comes word that Jane Norton, who tied with Buck with roughly 37 percent in a straw poll taken March 16 at GOP precinct caucuses, may follow suit and use the petition method herself.

The Norton campaign did not respond to requests for comment from The Colorado Statesman. But a source from a company that collects signatures for candidates in Colorado says the Norton campaign was presented with a proposal not too long ago and appeared receptive to the idea…

…To gain access through the petition route, a candidate needs 1,500 verifiable signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. The deadline is May 27. If Norton wants to hire petition circulators, she certainly has the money. Norton reported collecting more than $800,000 in the first quarter of this year.

UPDATE: Reporting Wednesday confirms that following Republican caucus rules, Norton cannot simultaneously gather petitions for the August primary ballot and participate in the caucus process. We don’t remember when the last time this was an issue, probably during the Holtzman vs Beauprez primary in 2006, but it’s liable to matter quite a bit more this time. We’ve stricken a sentence below, as this rule does make Norton’s decision more consequential.

The key question here is whether Norton would bypass the assembly process entirely and not participate, because if she’s going to do both then this isn’t a huge deal. We’ve always believed that Party insiders on both sides make too much out of a candidate’s decision to petition onto the ballot; frankly, it makes a lot of sense for a campaign to gather petitions, whether they need them for ballot access or not, because it allows you to build a nice list of potential supporters for the August primary and beyond.

If true, this story says more about the growing strength of Ken Buck than it does about Norton, though the big question for Buck is still all about money. None of this will matter much unless Buck can raise enough money to have a solid presence on television.

In the wake of a decision by appointed Senator Michael Bennet to begin gathering petitions to secure his place on the Democrat primary ballot, US Senate candidate Jane Norton will turn her focus to meeting with party activists and disaffected voters from across the political spectrum as her campaign begins a grassroots petition drive.

“Every election is different, and this one is certainly different. We’re living in unique, historical times. Business as usual will not do as a way to conduct this campaign. This election for me has always been about focusing on the issues and unseating Michael Bennet,” commented Norton. “After much careful deliberation, I have decided we cannot afford to give the appointed Senator a two-month head start.  Our freedom is under attack, and that is why I need to take the fight as soon as possible to the Democrats, Michael Bennet, and Barack Obama to take back Colorado’s senate seat for the people of Colorado and help take back our government for the American people.

“This is not a decision I have made lightly. I have participated in our precinct and convention process my whole life, and I remain respectful of these institutions. I admire the enthusiasm of the many party leaders who devote their efforts to promoting participation, including the 9,622 grassroots Republicans who honored me with their support in the caucus straw poll. The convention remains a vital part of Colorado’s political process, but the next six weeks are far too important to spend campaigning solely to a small bloc of voters.

“So I will begin campaigning full-time for the primary today. I am blessed with a strong grassroots campaign organization in all 64 Colorado counties, and we will use that network to collect petition signatures, recruit new volunteers, expand our organization, and continue to bring our message of limited government to all corners of the state.

“The appointed Senator’s decision to gather petitions will give him an opportunity to campaign on a broad public stage over the next six weeks, and that’s an advantage I will not cede to him. I will spend the next six weeks campaigning on the issues to the several hundred thousand Coloradans who will vote in the Republican primary, not to mention thousands of other unaffiliated and Democrat voters who are sick and tired of business as usual in Washington.

“I’m Jane Norton, the daughter of a Marine who fought in one of the toughest battles of World War II.  I learned from him that freedom is worth fighting for. I cannot wait another day while the special interests in Washington and mysterious donors attack me with millions of dollars flooding Colorado’s airwaves. We have to stand up and begin the fight now to take Colorado’s senate seat back from Washington insiders and lifelong public office holders.

“I can’t wait to mix it up with Harry Reid and the Good Ol’ Boys in Washington. And I can’t wait to engage in the primary contest. But the primary is a means to an end, and the ultimate end is to beat Michael Bennet and restore common sense, responsible fiscal leadership, and conservative values to the Senate. And that’s exactly what we will do.”

Numerous Colorado Conservative leaders responded to the announcement:

“Jane Norton was there with me at the state convention in 2002, 2004, and 2006 and I have every confidence she would perform admirably at the state convention this year. But each election is different, and clearly Michael Bennet’s decision to petition on has changed the game. This is a smart move that gives Republicans the best shot at victory in November.” – Governor Bill Owens

“Jane Norton is the right candidate in this race. She’s had my full support from the beginning, and that support continues today and on into November.” – Senator Hank Brown

“As a proud Tea Partier I have three words: Go Jane, Go! I’m excited to begin collecting signatures for Jane to prepare for the August primary and the next step in unseating Governor Ritter’s appointed Senator.” – Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland

“Jane Norton will make a terrific United States Senator.  People have responded to her principles, integrity and passion with tremendous grassroots support.  She has the resources to win in November, and this step puts her closer to that goal.” – Former state treasurer Mark Hillman

43 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. SheepskinStrutt says:

    Norton’s obviously making a bold move here; it could present an easier way to grab some more Independents, using the analogy that it’s better to look at the 300,000 CO voters than simply 3,000-odd GOP delegates. This state also hasn’t elected a female Senator yet; maybe a petition route could garner votes from that. Both parties tend to caterwaul about petitioning, I agree that it’s not as big an issue as it seems.

    In all fairness, Bennet is doing the same thing, and because of the 33-33-33 rough split in CO voters between Dems, GOP, and Independents, the campaign must be counting on drawing a more significant chunk of Independents than was previously thought.

    I still think those of us on either side who think this race come August will not be Bennet-Norton are, with all due respect, chasing a false hope at this point.  

    • scobb99 says:

      At this point Norton cannot really afford to be focused on a narrow group of voters. She is trying to garner mass appeal that will help her in the general. By no means is this a sign of weakness as Republican36 said below, but rather a sign that she is moving on to the general election.

      • Republican 36 says:

        Ms. Norton has spent her entire campaign, until today, campaigning to win at the Republican state convention and, now, suddenly, she is going on by petition because of some fanatasized reason that she will build her organization by doing so. Her excuse that Senator Bennett is doing it and she doesn’t want him to have a two month headstart is a diversion.

        Admittedly this is a guess, and only that, but she must believe she was going to loose by a substantial margin at the Republican state convention and may even believe she will be below 30% which of course would be an embarrasing outcome.

        She has been campaigning to all Colorado voters since this campaign began. With TV, radio and the internet her campaign has been reaching out to Colorado voters of all stripes since she announced. She doesn’t need to forgo the convention in order to campaign to all voters. She is already doing that.

        Bottom line: She was going to be embarassed at the state convention and this is her attempt to avoid that while simultaneously characterizing her decision as one to refocus her campaign on the primary election. She is in trouble with the base of the Republican Party.

    • bluemountains says:

      Petitioning is supposed to win over independents. People signing a petition would have to be a registered D/R. These are primary petitions.

      I think its worth noting that Bennet is having his staff petition while Norton is using a firm.

      • Middle of the Road says:

        A large portion of those gathering signatures for Bennet are volunteers and PCP people that were delegates for him at county.

      • WashParkPoet says:

        Wadhams looks down upon candidates who go the petition route because it bucks the system. (No pun intended)

        But, it sure makes for an interesting dinner conversation at the Wadhams house since his fiance works on the Norton campaign.

        Wonder if he will allow her to speak at the Assembly even though he said the Party won’t allow it.

        Will he “buck” the system?

  2. SheepskinStrutt says:

    Allison Sherry over at the Post just confirmed it: http://blogs.denverpost.com/th

    GOP Senate frontrunner Jane Norton will petition her way onto the ballot rather than go through the state assembly, the campaign announced Tuesday.

    The move is characterized by observers as political insurance in a heated primary that is pitting Norton against the self-described “tea party candidate” Ken Buck. Norton said her campaign made the call after incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet decided to do the same thing a couple weeks ago.

  3. DavidThi808 says:

    Generally you do. But this is a weird year. And Buck is making good use of the web, which is dirt cheap, and second only to paid media in effectiveness.

    Keep in mind McCain came back to get the GOP nomination after he had spent all his money and was running on a shoestring.

  4. Danny the Red (hair) says:

    not participating at all in the convention?  Ugly.

  5. Republican 36 says:

    If, as reported she is foregoing the convention, she must think she will be shellacked at the convention perhaps two to one. As SheepskinStrutt stated above, it still looks like it will be Bennett vs. Norton in the Fall general election campaign but Norton sure looks weak. This is good news for Senator Bennett.

    • ScottLewis says:

      This doesn’t make her look weak. This allows her to focus on winning the primary without worrying about the small pool of folks attending the convention.

      She’s focusing on the far greater numbers of Rs in the state who will likely enjoy voting for her than a DA who doesn’t show up to work but “delegates” everything.

      • Republican 36 says:

        Ms. Norton has been focusing on “the far greater numbers of rs in the state . . .” since this campaign began. Thats why she has been running TV ads long before she decided to forego the state convention. She didn’t do nearly as well at the caucuses as many expected and she is probably worried aobut being embarassed at the state convention. Thats why she suddenly changed her strategy and is going on by petition.

  6. Tazistan Jen says:

    Does “bypassing the convention” mean the candidate does not need 10% of the votes?  Or is that rule only for Dems?  

  7. Square Deal says:

    Congrats to Norton on a brilliant political move.  By petitioning on the ballot, she has the opportunity to build on her grass roots campaign and reach more Coloradans than she ever could through the assembly process.  Ken Buck has been so focused on Norton and the assembly that he’s lost touch with reality.  Jane successfully pulled the rug out from under him today.  Thanks, Jane, for the courage you’ve displayed with this decision. (And for knocking Buck on his butt!)      

  8. DaftPunk says:

    … this irked me.

    I’m Jane Norton, the daughter of a Marine who fought in one of the toughest battles of World War II.  I learned from him that freedom is worth fighting for. I cannot wait another day while the special interests in Washington and mysterious donors attack me with millions of dollars flooding Colorado’s airwaves. We have to stand up and begin the fight now to take Colorado’s senate seat back from Washington insiders and lifelong public office holders.

    So the special interests and mysterious donors are. like the Japanese, enemies of freedom?  Michael Bennet is a lifelong public office holder?

    If I’m not mistaken, Mrs. Norton has spent more time on the public tit than he.  Norton can’t be the air-headed idiot her campaign makes her look like, right?

    • jaytee says:

      Typical Norton– the scary rhetoric that’s just “conservativey” in the way things can be “truthy.” It’s just froth. There’s no there there. Norton running against Washington insiders is just upside-down world.

      Buck is honest at least. She’s the worst.  

      • harrydoby says:

        As with Norton’s earlier statement:

        Our principles and our civil liberties are being just jack hammered

        You kind of have to flip the point of view around to see she’s projecting the GOP’s wants, desires and actions onto the Democrats.

        You know sort of like this:

        WAR IS PEACE

        FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

        IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    • gertie97 says:

      to try to ride her campaign on the back of her late father’s heroism.

      Shameful!

    • Ralphie says:

      I had a different problem with that whole thing.

      My dad fought Rommel’s forces in North Africa. Then he landed at Anzio,  He was in a mortar battalion.  His job was to crawl on his belly with a spool of wire on his back in the middle of the night and string phone lines to forward observing positions that controlled his outfit’s mortar fire.  Read “where the enemy was”.  He won a Bronze Star too.  I still have it.

      He was a great man.  I’m a dirt bag.  If I was running for something, would you vote for me because of what my father did, or because of what I do?  If you answer the former, God help you.

      Come to think of it, if you answer the latter, God help you too.

      But you get my point.  Jane Norton might be her father’s daughter, but she is not her father.

  9. WashParkPoet says:

    wait and see.

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