This is Jerry Natividad.
Back in January, Natividad floated the idea that he might jump into the increasingly-crowded Republican race for U.S. Senate in Colorado. Natividad apparently needed more time to make up his mind on a potential Senate run, because he didn’t get around to formally announcing his candidacy until Tuesday, March 1 (which, of course, was the same day that Colorado Republicans got together for their first round of caucusing).
As John Frank reported for the Denver Post on March 1st, Natividad had a plan in mind for ballot access:
Natividad, a self-described moderate, said his late entry will not hurt his campaign. He plans to collect petition signatures to secure a spot on the ballot, rather than winning support from activists as part of the caucus process.
His campaign team includes consultants former state Sen. Josh Penry and former House Speaker Frank McNulty. Shannon Kopp and Evelyn Lim at KL Strategies are leading his fundraising effort.
Just seven days later, it sounds as though Natividad is already moving to “Plan B.” As Ernest Luning reports for the Colorado Statesman:
“My first instinct was to petition on,” Natividad told The Colorado Statesman in a statement. “But as I’ve made the rounds and worked the phones, Republican activists are truly uninspired by this parade of insiders and professional politicians. Is there an opening at the assembly for a guy who is a true outsider? Is there a clear contrast between a guy like me who’s come from literally nothing and built something vs. this cattle call of career politicians? No question about it. So yes, the assembly looks more and more appealing every day.”
The Colorado secretary of state’s office hasn’t approved nominating petitions for Natividad, a spokeswoman told The Statesman Tuesday. [Pols emphasis]
That’s some nice messaging spin from Natividad on the “value” of seeking the ballot through the State Republican Assembly on April 9 in Colorado Springs, but it’s obvious that the real determining factor was simply that he was running out of time. Senate candidates going the petition route need to submit 10,500 signatures (1,500 from each of Colorado’s seven Congressional districts) to the Secretary of State’s office by April 4 — which is less than four weeks from today — and Natividad had yet to get his nominating petitions approved for distribution.
At least four other candidates (Robert Blaha, Jack Graham, Jon Keyser, and Ryan Frazier) have been gathering petition signatures for several weeks already, so there wasn’t going to be a lot of low-hanging fruit for Natividad to harvest in a mad rush before April 4. This was the right strategic call for Natividad, but it’s difficult to see how he’s going to make the ballot through the GOP Assembly. As we wrote in this space on the day after Super Tuesday, state Sen. Tim Neville is probably the only Republican candidate who can feel confident that his name will appear on the June 28 Primary ballot. Depending on how well Neville performs at the State Assembly, there may only be room for one other Republican candidate seeking ballot access through the caucus process.
In order to make it onto the June 28th ballot via the caucus process, a candidate must receive at least 30% of the vote at the State GOP Assembly on April 9. Anybody who receives less than 30% can only make the ballot by petition, but by then, that ship will have long since sailed. In other words, it’s 30% or bust.
Assuming Neville picks up more than 30% of delegates at the State Assembly, the margin of error for the rest of the caucus-going candidates will start to shrink rapidly (Natividad, Peg Littleton, Darryl Glenn, and a handful of third-tier candidates are going the Assembly route). It is only mathematically possible for three candidates to make it through the Assembly, and only if all three wind up with about 33% of the delegates, respectively.
If Neville receives more than 40% of the vote at the Assembly, which seems likely, then there is only enough space for one more Republican candidate to crack the 30% threshold. Could Jerry Natividad pick up enough delegate support to be that second candidate? It’s certainly possible, but that would assume that folks such as Littleton and Glenn aren’t getting enough love from GOP activists despite campaigning for months.
Perhaps Natividad really just wanted to run for U.S. Senate for about a month before moving on to something else. If that’s the case here, then things are going just like he planned.