Holtzman files suit to get name on ballot | AspenTimes.com

Holtzman files suit to get name on ballot

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press

DENVER ” Battling for a spot in the Aug. 8 primary, attorneys for Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman filed a lawsuit Thursday demanding a judge put him on the ballot.

The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in Denver District Court, alleges Secretary of State Gigi Dennis “is about to commit a breach or neglect of duty by using improper legal standards” to certify petition signatures. Holtzman, a part-time Missouri Heights resident, said he would “suffer immediate and irreparable harm” if Dennis certifies the ballot without his name.

Dana Williams, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Gigi Dennis, said the dispute needs to be settled quickly because Dennis has a Friday deadline to certify the ballot.

“Our main interest is getting guidance from the court so we can resolve this as quickly as possible and certify the ballot,” Williams said.

Attorneys for Holtzman said no harm would result if a judge put him on the ballot because the judge could order that votes for Holtzman not be counted if it is later determined that Holtzman failed to qualify.

“Since there is no other candidate for governor running for the Republican nomination, no primary voter will be forced to choose between the plaintiff and any other person,” the lawsuit noted.

John Marshall, spokesman for Holtzman’s rival, Bob Beauprez, said the lawsuit was a delaying tactic after Holtzman failed to get enough votes at the state Republican assembly to get on the primary ballot.

“We’re extremely disappointed they decided to pursue litigation. If they have the evidence, show it. We believe the evidence shows Mark Holtzman hasn’t made the ballot,” Marshall said.

The hearing process was thrown in turmoil after Holtzman said Tuesday that Dennis had no authority to rule on her own decision that Holtzman failed to make the ballot.

Holtzman also ignored a 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday to file an appeal of the ruling. Instead, he sent a letter to Dennis saying he planned to file a lawsuit asking a Denver District Court judge “to correct an election official’s breach or neglect of duty or other wrongful act.”

Holtzman was forced to petition onto the ballot after delegates to the state GOP convention last month denied him a spot on the ballot, choosing Beauprez as their only candidate to replace Republican Gov. Bill Owens, who is term-limited.

Party leaders urged him to drop out so Beauprez could focus on what could be a close and hard-fought campaign against the likely Democratic nominee, former Denver District Attorney Bob Ritter.

Holtzman refused to back down and said he would petition onto the ballot, the only other route to the ballot under state law. But Dennis ruled last week that Holtzman had failed to collected the required 1,500 signatures in each of the state’s seven congressional districts.

Holtzman’s campaign manager, Bob Gould, said Dennis’ office improperly rejected 4,239 signatures without trying to determine which congressional district the voters were registered in because typing errors prevented the state’s computer system from matching voters to their cities.

He said those signatures represented 20 percent of the total Holtzman submitted.

Gould said other signatures were partially legible, but a forensic computer firm hired by the Holtzman campaign was able to track them down using other information that was readily available to the secretary of state, including phone numbers.

Former U.S. Attorney Mike Norton also filed a court challenge Thursday, asking a judge to rule that thousands more signatures should have been rejected because the people gathering the signatures were not properly registered Republicans. No date for either hearing has been set.

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