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Hurlbert fails to qualify for ballot

JULIE SUTOR
summit daily news
Mark Hurlbert
ALL |

SUMMIT COUNTY – District Attorney Mark Hurlbert is out of the race for the local Colorado state Senate seat.

Hurlbert failed to collect a sufficient number of valid signatures to petition his way onto the August Republican primary ballot, where he would have faced Tim Leonard of Evergreen. Leonard defeated Hurlbert through the assembly process, thereby obviating the need to petition.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised,” Hurlbert said. “We didn’t have very long to collect a whole lot of signatures.”

Hurlbert would have had to submit at least 1,000 valid signatures from registered Republicans inside Senate District 16 in order to appear on the August ballot. His campaign turned in 1,118 signatures, but the Secretary of State’s office rejected 724 of them as invalid. Hurlbert had less than a week to collect signatures after his May 21 defeat at the District 16 Republican Assembly.

“That we collected 1,100 signatures in three days was pretty incredible. I think it does show that I had support among rank-and-file Republicans. And there were also independents and Democrats saying, ‘Mark, I can’t sign, but I support you,'” Hurlbert said.

Hurlbert has until June 16 to contest the office’s results, but he said he has no plans to do so.

“The challenge with candidate petitions is finding circulators that are registered voters of the same party affiliation to circulate the petitions,” said Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office. “If we find that a circulator is not a registered voter in that party, we have to disqualify the entire packet they collected signatures for. The other challenge is finding registered voters affiliated with the party of the candidate who live in the district.”

Hurlbert said volunteers and paid circulators contributed to the petition effort.

“The people who volunteered were people I knew personally and I knew were Republican,” he said.

Asked if he would have done anything differently, Hurlbert said he would have started the petitioning process from the beginning of the campaign, rather than focusing on winning delegate support through the assembly process.

“I spent a month-and-a-half to two months campaigning to delegates when I could have been campaigning to the rest of Republicans,” he said.

Leonard said his campaign won’t change its message as it shifts its focus from the primary to the general election, where he will face Democrat Jeanne Nicholson, a Gilpin County commissioner.

“This is not the year for career politicians to be elected,” Leonard said. “They want a businessman who will rein in government spending. I’m looking forward to having good discussions with (Nicholson) about how we’re going to get our economy on track, and I think the taxpayers and citizens will be very interested in hearing those discussions.”

Leonard said he hoped to receive Hurlbert’s backing as the campaign continues.

“We’re anxious to have him jump on board and bring us some good support from Summit County,” Leonard said.

Hurlbert’s term as district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District expires in 2012, and he said he will not seek a term-limit extension.

“I’m excited to serve out the last two years of my term and serve the people of the district,” he said.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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