Judge orders Holtzman’s name on ballot | AspenTimes.com

Judge orders Holtzman’s name on ballot

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

DENVER – A Denver District judge Friday ordered the secretary of state to put Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman on the Aug. 8 ballot, handing Holtzman’s embattled campaign a victory.Judge Michael Mullins said the courts will later have to determine whether Holtzman, a part-time Missouri Heights resident, had enough valid signatures to get on the ballot and agreed with Holtzman that he would suffer irreparable harm if he were kept off it. Mullins said if it is later determined that Holtzman did not get enough signatures, votes cast in his favor would not be counted.Secretary of State Gigi Dennis disqualified Holtzman last week, saying he did not collect enough signatures to petition his way onto the ballot after his party chose Rep. Bob Beauprez as its only candidate to replace term-limited Gov. Bill Owens.The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, alleges Dennis “is about to commit a breach or neglect of duty by using improper legal standards” by saying Holtzman did not have enough valid petition signatures to get on the ballot.Friday is the deadline for Dennis to certify the ballot for the primary.”Our main interest is getting guidance from the court so we can resolve this as quickly as possible,” said Dana Williams, a spokeswoman for Dennis.Party leaders urged Holtzman 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 district the voters were registered in. He said those signatures represented 20 percent of the total Holtzman submitted.Gould said a forensic computer firm hired by the Holtzman campaign was able to track down some of the voters using other information that was readily available to the secretary of state, including phone numbers.Attorneys for Holtzman said he should be put on the ballot because the judge could order that votes for Holtzman not be counted if it is later determined he 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, a spokesman for Beauprez, said the lawsuit was a delaying tactic.”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.Holtzman has said the secretary of state has no authority to rule on her earlier decision to keep him off the ballot.Holtzman ignored a Tuesday deadline to file an appeal of the ruling, instead warning Dennis of the lawsuit.Former U.S. Attorney Mike Norton has also filed a court challenge, asking a judge to rule that thousands more signatures for Holtzman 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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