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Colorado Supreme Court Boots GOP Congressman Off 2018 Ballot

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., speaks at the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit in Washington in 2013.
Charles Dharapak

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., may not be on the ballot this fall thanks to a petition snafu.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that the signatures the six-term congressman submitted to run for re-election were invalid because the people he hired to gather those signatures were not Colorado residents, as required by state law. Therefore, the court ruled those signatures were "invalid and may not be considered," leaving him short of 1,000 needed to make the ballot.

A lower court had initially ruled in Lamborn's favor, but five Republicans in his district appealed and the state Supreme Court sided with the congressman's opponents.

"We recognize the gravity of this conclusion, but Colorado law does not permit us to conclude otherwise," the court wrote in the ruling.

According to member station KUNC, it's too late for Lamborn to wage a write-in campaign to get on the June 26 primary ballot, but the secretary of state's office says he could be write-in candidate for the general election.

Lamborn could still, however, appeal the state court's decision to a federal court. The Denver Post reports that could be by asking the court to change the requirement for petition gatherers to the standard applied to those gathering signatures for ballot initiatives, who aren't required to live in the state.

When the Post reached Lamborn by phone, he told the paper "we're still digesting the opinion" and then hung up. When he was reached a second time, he said "we're still looking at the language" and hung up again, directing the reporter to his press secretary, the paper reports.

Lamborn represents a safe Republican seat that includes Colorado Springs. President Trump carried by 24 points, and even if Lamborn isn't on the ballot it's unlikely the seat would fall into Democratic hands.

There are several other Republicans already on the primary ballot, and Lamborn has faced primary challenges before. State Sen. Owen Hill and Darryl Glenn, who was the party's Senate nominee in 2016, have both posted strong fundraising totals on the GOP side.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politicsand is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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