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May 01, 2012 06:20 PM UTC

Gessler is actually right for once.

  • by: Dan Willis

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

As much as I squawk about Sec. of State Scott Gessler misinterpreting the law to his own ends, I feel I have to give him props when he is actually right about something.

Today the AP is reporting about a dispute between Gessler and the El Paso County Clerk, Wayne Williams.

Williams wants to cancel the primary election for the parties that do not have contested primaries. However, he has contested GOP primaries, so they would have go on as planned.

Gessler maintains a clerk cannot cancel one party’s primary and hold another’s.

Having reread the recently passed law the allows primaries to be canceled, it clearly states thay if any contested race exists, the primary must proceed as normal. Gessler is arguing the side of the law for once.

I can understand why Williams would want to cancel the other parties’ primaries. It would be a big money saver (he estimates $68,000). But, the law is not worded that way, plain and simple. It would be a worthwhile conversation for the legislature to have about changing the law.


17 thoughts on “Gessler is actually right for once.

  1. arguments within the Democratic party several years ago supporting efforts to clear the field for a candidate. One of the arguments was that they could avoid the cost of paying for a primary election. Were they misleading, or has the law changed? I assume some things have changed since I also got the impression at the time that the party had to pay (part?) of the freight for the primary election.

    I’m a little lost as far as additional costs are concerned- the polling places have to be there anyway. Presumably the cost relates to mailing the additional ballots and some staff time for processing. Is the Dem primary the only thing in the air down in El Paso County? Do they not have anything else on the ballot? Bond issues? Non-partisan races?

    1. See HB09-1015.

      The argument is over the interpretation of the portion of the resulting law that allows a designated election official to cancel a primary.

      See CRS 1-4-104.5 or the bill linked above.

      The crux of the argument is whether a designated election official can cancel just one party’s primary if that party has no contested elections, or whether the designated election official can only cancel the entire primary if no party has a contested election.

      The wording is ambiguous.  The Secretary of State’s rules implement the law according to the latter interpretation.

      1. I agree that the wording is ambiguous. It’s actually a great example to use the next time I teach basic logic, and the imprecision of common English phrases.

    2. .

      Dems have no contested races; ACP has none, either.  

      FYI: Dems only appear to be running candidates in about 4 races in El Paso County:

      CU Regent at large

      HD 17, 18 & 20

      that’s out of about 13 state races.  

      Dems may be contesting County Commissioner and DA races, I don’t know.  



      as far as parties having to pay part of the freight for primaries, or any elections,



    3. It was not the cost of conducting the election that Dems were worried about. The party’s concern was over the campaign costs of running primary races where the fundraising would be better spent in the general.

      For example, forcing DeGette raise moeny on her own race in a primary distracts her from the great job she does raising money for Dem congressional candidates across the country.

      Or, if it is a competitive district, every dollar raised in a legislative race needs to go to supporting the Dem candidate in Nov. If there is a primary in that district, the winner of the primary has to do twice the fundraising.

      1. If it’s an uncontested primary, is there some minimum number of votes you have to get in order to make the ballot?

        ’cause with modern electronic voting, you can’t just write in ‘Mickey Mouse’ – you’ve got to solicit him on to the ballot first.

        An unopposed primary can’t be much of a distraction in this case, can it?

  2. I was explaining why the Dem party generally tries to avoid primaries, excpet in districts where the Dem is going to win no matter who he/she is (like Denver or Boulder).

    It is a matter of focusing the very limited campaign funds where they are needed most.

    Look at CD6. If Joe would have had a primary all the money he is raising now would have been for the June primary, leaving him very vulnerable in Nov. If he would have had a primary, I seriously doubt the DNC would be as enthusiastic about him as they are now.

    1. I wasn’t saying it was about the voting, I’m just interested in the monetary aspect.  If you’re not running opposed, how does this create a monetary issue?  What are the blockages, limitations, or expenses that make this an issue for a campaign?

        1. for instance, pay for Rep. Kagan’s non-existent primary.

          And, does the campaign need to find x amount of people to show up to vote, leading to an extra couple of mailings and door walking, for the primary? Or does a candidate who votes for themselves win, even if they are literally the only vote in the primary? (Obviously hypothetical.)

          Those may not have been the questions, but I’m interested. 🙂

        2. The diary is about Gessler saying that so long as any party has a contested primary, all parties in the district have to have primary elections.  I was assuming you were talking about these uncontested primaries costing money.  Perhaps I’m wrong?

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