Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a Democratic candidate for governor of Colorado, said Tuesday she plans to petition onto the primary ballot rather than pursue the nomination through the caucus and assembly process in order to engage with voters across the state.
"I have been privileged to work with and help people in every county as (lieutenant governor) and chief operating officer, and I know that leading the state requires listening to as many voices as possible," Lynne said in a written statement. "Petitioning onto the ballot reflects my commitment to inclusiveness, which is the best approach to electing another Democrat to continue the success we've seen under Gov. (John) Hickenlooper."
Lynne, a political newcomer, is one of five major Democrats running to take over for the term-limited Hickenlooper, who appointed her to fill the term of Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia after he resigned. Others in the race include U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and businessman Noel Ginsburg. Lynne is the first to announce she's pursuing the ballot via petition.
In order to qualify for the June 26 primary ballot, major-party candidates for statewide office in Colorado can either get the support of at least 30 percent of delegates to their party's state assembly or collect 10,500 signatures from members of their party - 1,500 from each of the state's seven congressional districts.
Following a scandal last year involving forged signatures collected by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser, the secretary of state plans to verify voters' petition signatures against a state database before accepting them.
Also new this year, unaffiliated voters will be able to cast ballots in Democratic or Republican primaries, and Lynne said engaging with those potential voters helped spur her decision to petition.
"There is tremendous voter interest and excitement for next year's elections," she said. "And while we can only collect petition signatures from Democrats, we plan to have conversations with tens of thousands of interested voters and share our plans to improve health care, expand educational opportunities, invest in our infrastructure, and protect this special state."
According to the secretary of state's office, candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions on Jan. 16, and they're due back by March 20. Precinct caucuses - open only to Democrats or Republicans who meet certain registration requirements - are on March 6, followed by county assemblies throughout the rest of March and the major party's state assemblies, both scheduled for April 14.