It seems like a week without any mention of sexual harassment, wouldn't be much a week at all in Colorado; but rest assured, news on that front is limited.
There was a press release issued by Senate Democrats to urge the Senate Republicans to "do something" about Sens. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulfur Springs) who have both had investigations finish that deem accusations against them credible. Senate Leadership has not made any public announcements since last week when they asked Denver District Attorney (former state Rep.) Beth McCann to investigate the charges.
This week, was still light in terms of bills being heard though as Republicans and Democrats around the state met to caucus on Tuesday.
According to the Secretary of State (SOS), 34 people have filed paperwork declaring they are running for governor of Colorado. Among them, there are about eight candidates that will give this race a real shot, according to analysts and political strategists.
For Democrats, the leaders are: former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Lt. Governor Donna Lynne, former state Sen. Michael Johnston, Congressman Jared Polis and businessman Noel Ginsburg.
Kennedy was the big winner on Tuesday night, having the support of more than 50% of voters that showed up to caucus, which is typically about six percent of registered voters. Support from at least 30% of voters means that a candidate has officially "made the ballot." The only other Democrat to reach that threshold was Polis.
For Republicans, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, businessman (and nephew of former US Senator Mitt Romney) Doug Robinson, and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell are leaders. Yet, differing from the Democrats on process, the GOP does not assign delegates through a poll.
Of the four, Coffman is the only top Republican officially seeking to earn a spot on the ballot solely through the caucus, some consider that to be a risky path as she doesn't always align with Republicans on litmus-test issues. The true test will be at the state assembly, where the official votes will be cast.
For the rest of the Republicans and for the Democrats as well, caucus is only one of the two (not mutually exclusive) paths to the ballot.
One way, as has been mentioned, is caucus. There, a candidate tries to break through the potentially risky gauntlet of the grassroots caucus-and-assembly process. The other option is to bypass that route completely with a typically costly effort to go directly to the ballot via voter petitions.
Stapleton is likely doing both. He considered to be leading the pack for the GOP. He is submitting signatures and also had a strong showing at caucus. This strategy could place him as "top line" on the ballot, first in a potentially long list of candidates to from which to pick.
Johnston, the former state Sen. with over $1 million to spend in his campaign fund, also went both routes. He submitted more than 20,000 voter signatures last Wednesday in his bid to qualify for the ballot in Colorado's governor's race and, his campaign boasted, those signatures were collected exclusively through the use of volunteers. Johnston also went to caucus, but only had support from about eight percent of caucus-goers.
As he was the first to return his petitions, he secured a significant strategic gain in the crowded Democratic primary since a voter's signature only can count once. That means if someone signed a petition more than once, the campaign to turn that signature in first is the only campaign to get credit for that supporter.
To qualify for the ballot, candidates must secure 10,500 signatures from registered party members - 1,500 in each of the state's seven congressional districts. It's a tough threshold to meet and typically candidates pay canvassers to collect signatures on their behalf. According to people familiar with the matter, those signatures can cost upwards of $15 each.
At this point, it is likely Johnston's name will appear along with Kennedy and Polis' on the ballot. Lynne is working to get access to the ballot via the petition path as well. When it comes to the primary, it won't just be partisans that the candidates will have to impress. Thanks to new laws voters passed in 2016 by the state legislature, those who are unaffiliated with a major political party can participate in either party's primary.
Appealing to moderates and independent voters may make the difference in this large field diverse candidates. For right now, it seems like anybody's race and when it comes to the General Election, it is too early to tell who could come out on top.
The governor's race continues with the next major marker being the county assembly and the session is officially half way over, but huge issues remain unresolved. Rumor has it that the coming weeks will bring a new transportation funding bill, reform to the Public Employees Retirement Act (PERA) and more messaging bill from each chamber.