Politics

Federal Judge Rules Lamborn Should Be on Primary Ballot

Colorado Republican faces a competitive primary in bid for seventh term

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., can remain on the primary ballot, a judge ruled Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:37 p.m. | A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn should be placed on the primary ballot, overturning a state Supreme Court ruling that he violated state law when collecting signatures for his nomination. 

Colorado requires petition circulators to be state residents. The state high court ruled last week that one of Lamborn’s circulators was not a resident, thus invalidating some of his signatures and leaving him 58 short of the 1,000 required to qualify for the 5th District ballot. 

Lamborn responded with a federal lawsuit, asserting that the residency requirement violated the First Amendment right to to free speech. Judge Philip A. Brimmer of the District Court of Colorado wrote in his Tuesday ruling that Lamborn’s team was correct, calling the requirement “likely unconstitutional.”

Asked if Colorado Secretary of State Wayne W. Williams would appeal the judge’s decision, a spokeswoman for his office said it was still reviewing the ruling.

But Lamborn’s legal troubles may not be over. The original plaintiffs in the case, which include a group of GOP voters, plan have appealed the ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

“We are disappointed that a federal judge chose to overrule the unanimous decision of the Colorado Supreme Court as well as overturn the will of the people of Colorado as expressed by their elected representatives,” plaintiffs’ spokesman Kyle Fisk said. “We have filed an immediate appeal to the 10th Circuit. We have also requested that Secretary Williams not be allowed to certify the ballot until the 10th Circuit hears that appeal.”

Ballot certification was already delayed until Wednesday due to a separate case involving a challenge to signatures of a candidate for attorney general. Ballots must be sent to overseas and military voters by May 12. 

Lamborn’s team said after the ruling that it hoped the legal battle would end.  

“We are extremely pleased that the judge ruled in our favor and has ensured that Congressman Lamborn’s name will appear on the primary ballot,” Lamborn spokesman Dan Bayens said in a statement Tuesday. “We believe it is time to move on from this issue, and we hope our opponents will end their legal maneuverings in an effort to disqualify Congressman Lamborn from the Republican primary. As we have said all along, we believe voters — not lawyers and judges — should decide the outcome of elections.

Among Lamborn’s primary challengers in the June 26 contest are state Sen. Owen Hill and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, the unsuccessful GOP Senate nominee in 2016.

The winner of the GOP primary is expected to be in strong position in November. President Donald Trump carried the 5th District by 24 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.

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