Jeffco politics

Judge OKs late filing for GOP

Candidate on ballot despite blown deadline

Jane Barnes, republican candidate for state House District 23
Posted

A Jefferson County judge on Aug. 21 rejected an effort to keep a Republican state House candidate's name off the November ballot.

The ruling means that House District 23 candidate Jane Barnes will square off against state Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood, this fall.

Democrats in Jeffco had sought to prevent a Barnes candidacy because her nomination was submitted after the state's election code deadline.

A Republican vacancy committee convened to select Barnes as a candidate after the party's original hopeful, Nate Marshall, dropped out of the race after his sympathetic views on white supremacism became known.

Democrats in HD23 argued that that the Secretary of State's Office - headed by Republican Scott Gessler — failed to comply with election law by allowing Barnes to remain on the ballot. Barnes' candidacy papers weren't filed until three weeks after a spring deadline.

Gessler's office defended its position, arguing it had “exercised caution to avoid unnecessarily excluding a candidate.”

Jefferson County Chief District Court Judge Stephen M. Munsinger agreed.

“The petition fails to state any basis on which this court can find that the secretary of state's late acceptance of the designation resulted from `systematic disregard' for the election code,” Munsinger wrote in a four-page ruling.

The ruling was a victory for Republicans, who see Jefferson County as the state's key battleground in several races this fall, including some that could alter the makeup of the state House, where Democrats hold a 37-28 voting advantage.

Following the ruling, Colorado Republican Committee Chairman Ryan Call blasted Democrats' court efforts to block Barnes' candidacy.

“When Democrats are concerned about their chances of winning, they apparently think going to the courts will save them from being held accountable by the people,” Call said through an emailed statement.

Attorney Ed Ramey, who represented the plaintiffs in court, said he was disappointed by the judge's ruling. Ramey also disagreed with Munsinger's finding and said that he is “concerned that this sort of disregard of statutory deadlines is not turning out to be such an isolated occurrence this year.”

“We do appreciate the speed and consideration that the court gave to all parties today, however,” Ramey said.