DA candidates scramble for signatures
Two men racing to clear a petitions hurdle and become candidates for district attorney in an upcoming recall election are wondering why that hurdle is so high.Martin Beeson and Chip McCrory are working hard to obtain the 1,000 signatures required to be candidates in the Dec. 13 election. The vote will decide whether Colleen Truden will remain district attorney, and if she’s removed, who will replace her.The trick is, because Beeson and McCrory are running as Republicans, the signatures must come from GOP voters only. And state law gave them only 15 days to gather them from the date Gov. Bill Owens set the recall election, Oct. 17. Those signing must live in Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties, which make up the 9th Judicial District.Petitioners seeking to force the recall election had 60 days to obtain 5,455 signatures from any registered voters in the three counties.Beeson estimated that around the start of the week he had gathered about 500 signatures. He said the law requires a lot of signatures in little time. But that doesn’t surprise him.”It’s the incumbents who don’t want to be recalled who are writing the laws who make it difficult for the average citizen like you or me to get on the ballot,” Beeson said.He said he thinks the law discourages good candidates from trying to get on the ballot.McCrory doesn’t see the 1,000-signature requirement as protecting incumbents from recall proponents.”It doesn’t stop them from the recall. It just stops them from being on the ballot,” he said.But he agreed with Beeson that the standard is a high one for such a short time. He said the system may not be the best, but its rules are what he and Beeson have to abide by.”If I had 100 petition circulators and two weeks to do it, I’d feel pretty confident about it,” he said.But he doesn’t, and he also is trying to continue his legal practice while gathering signatures, while Beeson, an ex-employee of Truden’s, isn’t working.Beeson said McCrory probably benefits from knowing a lot of people and having a lot of volunteers helping in his petition drive.McCrory said he’s not sure where he stands in his petition drive because he hasn’t been in touch recently with everyone helping him gather signatures.”I could sure use some more signatures. … It’s still going to be a push,” he said.”I’ve got a lot of supporters out there, but to get on the ballot I need Republicans,” he said.He and Beeson also face the challenge that, at this time of year, petition-gatherers must spend much of their time knocking on doors. During the recall petition drive, organizers took advantage of summer festivals to find more prospective signers in one place.”The biggest problem we have is finding people at all,” Beeson said.He estimates that 90 to 95 percent of those he finds at home sign his petition, but it’s not easy catching people at home.”We all have busy lives and things to do and places to go,” he said.But he’s cautiously optimistic that he will exceed the required amount.”We’re within striking distance. We’re going to push hard this week and this weekend,” he said.Beeson wants to turn in between 1,300 and 1,500 signatures to leave a cushion because the secretary of state’s office would probably disqualify some of them.Should Beeson and McCrory fall short, and Truden (a fellow Republican) be recalled, Owens would appoint her replacement. A Republican himself, he likely would name a member of his own party, which could give Beeson and McCrory another shot at the job.But Beeson doesn’t want to leave things to chance. He said he’s “not in the inner political machine in the area” and doesn’t expect that Owens would consider appointing him.”He doesn’t know me,” Beeson said.McCrory, a longtime prosecutor, said if it came down to Owens appointing a successor to Truden, “I certainly hope he would consider me.”
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