A federal judge ruled late Thursday that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lorena Garcia's name won't be listed on Colorado's primary ballots, cementing a race for the nomination between former Gov. John Hickenlooper and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
While he has yet to rule on Garcia's last-minute appeal seeking a spot in the primary, U.S District Court Judge William J. Martinez said in a four-page decision that the nonprofit leader's arguments appeared unlikely to succeed.
On Thursday morning, Garcia disputed the judge's conclusions but announced she was suspending her campaign.
The judge's decision allowed Secretary of State Jena Griswold to finalize the state's primary ballot and deliver it by Thursday's deadline to county clerks, who are required to send ballots to military and overseas voters by the end of next week. Ballots start going in the mail to the 3.4 million active voters with Colorado addresses on June 9.
The ruling also ends weeks of uncertainty surrounding the June 30 election to pick Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's Democratic challenger.
Garcia took her case to federal court Wednesday after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled she didn't collect enough signature on her nominating petitions. The high court rejected a Denver District Court decision that signature requirements should be adjusted to take the coronavirus pandemic into account.
Appealing on constitutional grounds, Garcia argued that emergency measures adopted by Gov. Jared Polis and state lawmakers to enable candidates who were pursuing the nomination through the caucus and assembly process unfairly ignored petitioning candidates, who said the public health crisis prevented them from collecting enough signatures.
"We gave this everything we had and came up short on making ballot access and giving Coloradans the option of choosing a people-centered candidate," Garcia said in a statement Thursday.
"Our race was historic. I was the first woman of color to run for U.S. Senate in Colorado, and the first out member of the LGBTQIA community. I could have been the third woman in the history of Colorado to be placed on the ballot for U.S. Senate. In the 144 years that Colorado has been a state, we have never had a woman senator. Unfortunately, both our electoral system — which lifts up established candidates — and an unprecedented pandemic robbed us all of not only making history, but of electing a well-qualified candidate that reflects the people of Colorado to our U.S. Senate."
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Griswold said the Secretary of State's Office acknowledged the difficulties petitioning candidates encountered in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
"However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Secretary of State's office to execute the laws of Colorado, as affirmed in the decisions made by the Colorado Supreme Court and federal district court," Betsy Hart, communications director for the secretary of state, said. "As a result, the state primary ballot has been certified without Ms. Garcia as a candidate for the United States Senate."