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Holtzman fails to gather enough petition signatures

DENVER ” Gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman failed to collect enough signatures on his petitions to make the August primary, Secretary of State Gigi Dennis said Thursday hours after a judge ruled his campaign violated the law with its affiliation with an anti-Referendum C group.

Holtzman, who last month was snubbed by his party when delegates to the state assembly picked Rep. Bob Beauprez as the sole candidate to run against term-limited GOP Gov. Bill Owens, came up short in two of the state’s seven congressional districts.

“Statute requires 1,500 signatures [within each congressional district] to make the ballot,” Dennis said.



Holtzman, a part-time Missouri Heights resident, has five days to appeal Dennis’ notice of insufficiency. Holtzman came up 333 signatures short in the 1st Congressional District, and 410 short in the 7th Congressional District, both which cover parts of the Denver metro area. Dennis also found 4,200 names that couldn’t be matched to a particular congressional district.

“We believe the signatures are there,” Gould said, adding that they collected the most signatures in the 7th District. “With more than 20,000 signatures collected there are going to problems.




“We plan to look at those discrepancies and see what the issue was and deal with it line by line,” Gould said.

Beauprez, however, immediately declared victory.

“Marc has run a spirited campaign and I have appreciated his contribution to the debate,” Beauprez said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Marc to ensure a united Republican Party and a victory this fall.

“I’m gratified and excited to be the Republican nominee …”

Earlier Thursday, Holtzman suffered his latest blow when a judge ruled campaign ads that featured the Republican urging voters to defeat a tax proposal amounted to an illegal political contribution. Holtzman’s campaign manager Dick Leggitt resigned last month after admitting he gave false poll numbers to a reporter and the state’s top Republicans and lawmakers have asked him to drop out of the race.

Holtzman again said Thursday afternoon that he would not quit the race.

“[Running mate] Lola [Spradley] and I together are going to stand up and fight tax increases, no matter what the intimation, no matter what the pressure, no matter what the cost,” he said.

Before Dennis’ announcement of Holtzman’s petition, Colorado State University political science professor John Straayer said it was hard to predict how Holtzman would rebound from his setbacks.

“He appears to have absolute determination to ride this out no matter what,” Straayer said. “He’s kind of staked out his position as an absolutely determined renegade.”

But Republican political consultant Katy Atkinson, who worked in support of Referendum C, said she doubted Holtzman could recover and beat Beauprez.

“This kind of a hit on your campaign and your candidacy is almost impossible to overcome,” Atkinson said. “Anything’s possible and when you’ve got a lot of money behind you, you can cause a lot of damage, but it’s going be very, very difficult.”

In the ads, Holtzman spoke against Referendum C, a ballot measure approved by voters in November that allows the state to keep nearly $4 billion extra in tax revenue over five years.

Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer fined Holtzman’s campaign $4,404, but said the decision was subject to review by the state Court of Appeals.

Holtzman said he did not break the law and called the ruling the equivalent of a political “parking ticket”

“What I have been asked to do today is the equivalent of a tax on free speech,” Holtzman said. “If a $4,000 parking ticket is what it costs to stand up for working families in Colorado and oppose that tax, I would gladly do that again.”

In his decision, Spencer said some television, radio and mail advertising funded by the “If C Wins You Lose” committee should be considered contributions to Holtzman’s campaign because they were intended in part to benefit him, even though they did not mention his candidacy for governor. The judge said the ads helped stress Holtzman’s anti-tax stance to Republican voters.

Holtzman denied he received any benefit from the ads, saying he lost the support of Owens and some contributors when he came out against the referendum.

Spencer also said Holtzman’s campaign had significant influence over the anti-C campaign, even though state law bars politicians from communicating with so-called issue campaigns that feature them in their ads. The anti-C committee was created at the initiative of Leggitt, who then told one of its employees that he planned to remain involved in most of its decisions, Spencer said.

Spencer said Holtzman’s campaign violated state law by accepting what amounted to more than $500 from one group. He was fined for that violation and for not immediately reporting the ads as contributions.

Holtzman said he was still deciding whether to appeal the ruling. He called the complaint politically motivated.

“We feel it was a coordinated attempt by the Beauprez campaign to do nothing more than destruct our campaign,” Holtzman said.

The complaint against Holtzman was filed with the secretary of state’s office by Steven Durham, a lobbyist who supports Beauprez. Under state law, such complaints are handled by administrative law judges rather than state courts.

Both Durham and Beauprez spokesman John Marshall denied there was any cooperation between the two. Marshall said Durham gave Beauprez $1,000, but has never spoken to the candidate.

Durham said he was considering an appeal to increase the fine Holtzman must pay. He said considering Holtzman’s previous issues, the candidate should drop out of the race.

“I think this is just one more piece of evidence of a very flawed and troubled campaign,” Durham said.


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