Jane Norton’s gamble

Perhaps Jane Norton will prove to be a brilliant political strategist.

It may be that her decision announced Tuesday — to petition her way onto the Republican primary election ballot in the race for the party’s U.S. Senate nomination rather than go through the traditional state assembly process — will actually provide her more opportunity to secure votes for the primary election.

But if it does, and Norton wins the Republican primary in August, she will have confounded political leaders.

Norton, the Grand Junction native who served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Bill Owens, had been considered by many as the front-runner to win the Republican Senate nomination. Lately however, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck has apparently been doing better than Norton in rounding up delegates to support him at the state assembly.

Even so, bypassing the delegate process and petitioning directly onto the ballot is considered bad form, especially for one of the leading candidates.

Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, called Norton’s move a mistake and suggested she was turning her back on party activists who traditionally attend state conventions.

And Walt Klein, a consultant for Buck, called Norton’s decision “a stupid political move.”

He was particularly baffled by her explanation that she chose to go the petition route because Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is doing so within his party. As Klein and others noted, the rules for a primary election in the Democratic Party are substantially different than those for the Republican Party.

We wish the hometown candidate the best with her surprising political move. We won’t know until August whether it was brilliant or a bust.


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