DENVER—The Colorado Supreme Court rocked the state’s political establishment Monday by throwing six-term GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn off the primary ballot, citing problems with his signature-gathering.
The court ruled Monday that Mr. Lamborn, who represents the 5th Congressional District based in Colorado Springs, fell short of the 1,000 signatures required to qualify for the Republican primary after excluding petitions collected by a circulator who was not a Colorado resident.
“Because the challenged circulator was statutorily ineligible to serve as a circulator, the signatures he collected are invalid and may not be considered,” said the court in its ruling.
The decision leaves the congressman with essentially two choices if he wants to retain his seat: He can file an appeal with a federal court, as expected, or he can run as a write-in candidate.
“We realize the gravity of this conclusion, but Colorado law does not permit us to conclude otherwise,” said the court.
Lamborn campaign spokesman Dan Bayens said the congressman would challenge the decision.
“We are disappointed by the outcome and we believe it was wrongly decided,” said Mr. Bayens in a statement to KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs. “We are immediately bringing an action in federal court to overturn the part of Colorado law that deprives voters who have petitioned to have Congressman Lamborn on the ballot of their Constitutional rights.”
Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said the Colorado Supreme Court “just provided an avenue to have a federal judge strike the residency requirement for candidate circulators.”
“A sitting congressman was just knocked off the ballot without a vote of the people,” said Ms. Staiert, according to spokeswoman Lynn Bartels.
Mr. Lamborn’s signatures, collected by Kennedy Enterprises in Colorado Springs, were called into question in a challenge filed by five Republican registered voters in the district.
Monday’s decision, which reversed an April 10 lower-court ruling, is unlikely to benefit Democrats even if Mr. Lamborn remains off the ballot, given the district’s status as a GOP stronghold.
Four Republicans are attempting to oust Mr. Lamborn, led by state Sen. Owen Hill and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016.
Also seeking the GOP nomination are former Green Mountain Falls Mayor Tyler Stevens and retired judge Bill Rhea.
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