GOP candidates stump for Stapleton in GJ

Walker Stapleton

The two major candidates for Colorado governor are at odds over what the law says about when they are required to nominate a lieutenant governor running mate.

On Monday, when Democrat Jared Polis named former Rep. Dianne Primavera of Broomfield to be his running mate, the campaign manager for the Republican governor candidate, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, said Polis rushed that announcement to divert attention from a lack of unity in his party behind his campaign.

But according to state statutes — and the Polis campaign — the law requires governor candidates to make such a nomination within seven days after the primary. After Stapleton campaign manager Michael Fortney made that "rushed" comment Monday, he told The Daily Sentinel on Tuesday that Stapleton did pick a running mate the same day, but won't announce who that person is for a few weeks.

"You have to read the rest of that statute," Fortney said. "We have 30 days to make that announcement."

Historically, governor candidates have made such announcements within a week of the primary, sometimes even before.

Lynn Bartels, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Wayne Williams, admitted that the law is vague, saying there is no way to prove such an appointment has actually been made if it's not publicly announced.

At the same time, though, she said there is no provision in the law requiring gubernatorial candidates to make their choice public for at least 30 days, when an acceptance letter to be a candidate's running mate is to be filed with the Secretary of State's Office.

"That is the law, but nobody ever paid attention to it before," Bartels said. "The law says you have to offer the invitation (within seven days), but you don't have to let us know for 30 days. That's why I think the law is so strange. (Stapleton) has totally complied with the law. This issue has never come up before, and we asked the same thing, how would you prove it?"

Since 2000, when that law went into effect, every governor candidate regardless of party affiliation announced their lieutenant governor running mate within that seven-day requirement, Bartels said.

Fortney said the Stapleton campaign will announce its lieutenant governor pick in a few weeks, possibly at about the same time the treasurer plans to visit Grand Junction on July 25.

The Colorado Democratic Party isn't convinced Stapleton has actually named anyone, saying he's in violation of the law.

"Either he forgot he needed to choose a running mate by (Tuesday's) deadline and is lying to cover up yet another violation of law, or he thinks he plays by a different set of rules from everyone else, and feels entitled to hide his running mate from the public," party spokesman Eric Walker said.

"Every other candidate for governor over the last 18 years since this law has been in place has told voters their choice for lieutenant governor by this point. It's clear the Stapleton campaign is hiding something from the voters, and it's yet another example of how Stapleton can't be trusted to run a competent campaign, let alone run our state."