The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced today that Republican Senate candidate Jack Graham is the first of four GOP Senate candidates to make it onto the June 28th ballot. But if Graham’s low validity rate is any indication of things to come, there may be some serious sweating’ happening at the campaign headquarters of Robert Blaha, Jon Keyser, and Ryan Frazier.
The validity rate is the percent of signatures submitted that are from actual registered Republicans in the relevant districts; Graham submitted 22,786 signatures to the SOS office on March 28, and a whopping 9,895 were deemed invalid signatures (if you’re doing the math at home, that’s a “validity rate” of about 56.6%). A total of 10,500 valid signatures are needed to qualify for the U.S. Senate ballot (1,500 from each congressional district), and there’s no way that Graham could have made the cut had his campaign not submitted twice as many signatures as needed.
We wrote a few weeks back about how the petition process could get messy for Republican Senate candidates, and Graham’s low “validity rate” does not bode well for the other three candidates — all of whom used paid signature gatherers to some extent.
Because he was the first one through the door, Graham will be the first GOP candidate to have his petition signatures verified by the Secretary of State’s office. Once a signature is confirmed as valid, that name cannot be counted again for another candidate. Keyser’s campaign will thus need 1,500 valid signatures (per district) that have not already been submitted by Graham. Blaha will need 1,500 signatures that have not already been submitted by Graham AND Keyser. You can see how this becomes a problem for Frazier; as the last candidate to submit petitions, there are at least 4,500 registered Republican voters in each congressional district that cannot be counted toward his petition total. Frazier doesn’t just need 1,500 valid signatures from each district — he needs 1,500 different names.
For a rough analogy, consider the NFL Draft that will be held at the end of this month; if your team has the fourth selection in the draft, there are three collegiate players who will be off the board before your team gets a chance to pick a player. You cannot select a player who has already been chosen by another team, obviously, and the petition process works in a similar fashion.
Graham turned in a total of 22,786 signatures to the SOS on March 28, followed by Keyser, Blaha, and Frazier. Keyser’s campaign never disclosed how many total signatures his campaign submitted, which likely means it was not an impressive total. Both Blaha and Frazier claimed to have submitted more than 17,000 signatures. All three candidates are sweating bullets right now, hoping that they have a much better “validity rate” than Graham’s campaign.
Also today, the Secretary of State’s office announced that Adams County District Attorney Dave Young turned in enough valid signatures to make the June 28th Primary (Young was upset by Democrat Caryn Datz and did not make the ballot through the caucus process). Two Republicans also made the ballot today: Tom Lucero (HD-51) and Colleen Whitlow (HD-63).