DENVER - It's a GOP gubernatorial strategic battle for the June primary ballot with all the twists and turns expected in a seven-way scramble.
There are three ways to get on the ballot: petition on with thousands of signatures from across the state; win 30 percent of the delegate vote at the April 12 statewide assembly; or get 10 percent of the delegate vote and have enough valid signatures.
Every campaign has its own strategy.
Steve House, a Brighton businessman and chair of the Adams County Republican Party, decided Monday that he wouldn't turn in the more than 15,000 signatures his campaign collected to get on the ballot. "We're very confident we can go to the assembly and get enough votes to get on the ballot," House said. "We could be wrong, but we sure feel good about where we are."
House said that between now and the assembly, his campaign will hit as many counties as possible.
Only two candidates ended up turning in signatures by the Monday deadline.
Former congressman Bob Beauprez announced his campaign had turned in 21,000 signatures Monday.
"When we got into the race less than a month ago, they said it couldn't be done," Beauprez said in a prepared statement. "But we believed that Coloradans were still looking for a choice in this race."
Beauprez has said he won't accept a nomination at the assembly.
Tom Tancredo, also a former congressman, turned in petitions, but his campaign didn't return a phone call on Tuesday to say how many signatures had been turned in.
Tancredo has told the Denver Post that he will participate in the assembly, enhancing the competition for delegates.
It's possible Tancredo and Beauprez will know before the assembly whether they have enough signatures, but the deadline for the secretary of state to verify signatures is near the end of the month.
With six candidates expected to accept nominations at the assembly in Boulder in a few weeks, the question becomes who, if anyone, can hit 30 percent of votes.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler has name recognition and is the only candidate who has held statewide office.
Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, is likely to pull delegates from parts of rural Colorado who can relate to the Prius-driving, watermelon-shooting farmer.
Roni Bell Sylvester is a rancher known for her activism on water and property rights and oil and gas industry issues. She entered the race late but has been actively campaigning.
Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has been out of office for a few years, but if he can attract a healthy portion of the 484 delegates from Jefferson County, he'll have a good start.
The real question may be who can win over the 573 delegates from El Paso County, the largest representation at the assembly.
There are 4,145 delegates across the state and Owen Loftus, communications director for the Colorado Republican Party, said they are expecting a good turnout.
"This is going to be one of our biggest in history," Loftus said.
"This is going to be an exciting assembly," he said. "One thing that I wouldn't be surprised by is if we go into multiple rounds of ballots."
If no one reaches 30 percent on the first ballot, a second election will be held with all of the candidates' names. And if still no candidates win 30 percent, Loftus said the top two go onto the June primary ballot.
The maximum number of candidates on the primary ballot could be five, but that would require three candidates other than Tancredo splitting the votes equally at the assembly to each get 30 percent. That's an unlikely scenario, requiring that Tancredo still would have to garner 10 percent to use his signatures to get on the ballot.
Additionally, Beauprez's signatures would have to be found valid.
More likely, Republicans will be looking at three options in June - which three is the question.
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