Judge affirms Tancredo for Colorado ballot
September 15, 2010
DENVER – A Denver District Court judge ruled Tuesday that third-party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo can stay on Colorado’s ballot in November, avoiding a possible federal takeover of Colorado’s November election for failure to comply with military voting rules.
Denver District Court Judge William Hood ruled that the secretary of state was correct in certifying Tancredo as a candidate running on the American Constitution Party ticket.
The lawsuit by two Republicans claimed that Tancredo violated state law when he got the party’s nomination because he was not registered with the them for at least 12 months. The former congressman switched his affiliation from GOP.
Tancredo’s spokesman, Cliff Dodge, said the campaign was “grateful and humbled” by the decision as cheers erupted at his campaign headquarters when the decision was handed down.
“We are charging full-speed ahead to the election,” Dodge said.
Richard Westfall, attorney for Republican voters Joe Harrington and Marian Olson who challenged the decision to put Tancredo on the ballot, said he will meet with his clients before deciding whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
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Westfall said he believes attorneys representing Secretary of State Bernie Buescher overstated their case when they told the judge that taking Tancredo off the ballot would cause chaos in the November election.
Gerald Wayne Munster, the deputy elections director at the secretary of state’s office, said the state has been ordered by the federal government to meet a Saturday deadline after Colorado was denied a waiver to exempt the state from a federal requirement to mail ballots to military service members overseas 45 days before the November election.
“The Department of Justice could sue us and take over the election,” Munster told the judge.
In his ruling, Hood said that was a political decision he could not address.
Tancredo remains on the ballot, running against Republican Dan Maes and Democrat John Hickenlooper.
Tancredo said he believes party wishes take precedence over state laws because they allow parties to waive their bylaws governing party decisions.
“Under Colorado law, the party bylaws rule, they trump everything,” he said.
Westfall said he didn’t know and never asked if his clients were Maes supporters. Olson did not return phone calls seeking comment and Harrington had no listed phone number.