The Colorado Supreme Court on Thursday to hear an appeal from two El Paso County Republicans who wanted their names added to next month's primary ballot for a county commissioner race.
Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former state lawmaker, and political newcomer Garfield Johnson challenged the results of a GOP assembly, arguing that party official tampered with votes cast online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement leaves in place a decision handed down Tuesday by Fourth Judicial District Judge Catherine Mitchell Helton, who ruled that Klingenschmitt failed to produce evidence he received more delegate votes than the official tally.
With just under 67% of the delegate vote, Carrie Geitner, the wife of state Rep. Tim Geitner, R-Colorado Springs, was the sole Republican to win a spot in the June 30 Commissioner District 2 primary. The seat, covering the east side of Colorado Springs and northeastern El Paso County, is held by Republican Mark Waller, who is running in a primary for district attorney rather than seek a second term.
El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman, the defendant in Klingenschmitt and Johnson's lawsuit, applauded the decision to let the lower court ruling stand, saying in a statement that Helton had "upheld the rule of law."
“The Court adequately noted that there was no credible evidence provided by the Plaintiffs and found that myself and my office acted appropriately in the conduct of the Primary Election," Broerman said. "The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's office has strictly followed all federal and Colorado election laws and will continue to do so. Additionally, the district court judge found that when testifying under oath and subject to cross examination, Dr. Klingenschmitt offered no evidence to validate any concerns regarding the conduct of the Commissioner District 2 Republican Assembly."
Broerman said roughly 400,000 primary ballots have been printed and will be mailed to eligible voters in El Paso County on June 8. They're due back to the clerk's office by 7 p.m. June 30.
Klingenschmitt, who fell four votes short of the 30% needed to make the primary ballot, claimed in testimony during a hearing conducted online on May 22 that 76 delegates told him after the assembly that they had voted for him, but Helton rejected as hearsay a stack of emails, signed statements and eyewitness accounts produced by Klingenschmitt to prove he'd received enough votes.
Klingenschmitt called it "odd" that the supreme court didn't accept jurisdiction in the appeal in an email to Colorado Politics and said he plans to appeal the decision to an even higher authority.
"I haven't received or read the brief, but the clerk told me the supreme court denied my appeal saying they don't have jurisdiction," Klingenschmitt said, citing the language the court uses when it declines to consider an appeal.
"That's odd, because last month these Democrat-appointed judges ruled the Republican state party had no jurisdiction either, to help David Stiver in the Senate (District) 10 race. So they self-contradict, and apparently nobody on Earth is allowed to hear the 76 delegates who signed they voted for me. Therefore I now appeal to God Almighty, and I trust He has jurisdiction. God will make this right, somehow, and I trust Him entirely."
The high court declined earlier this month to hear an appeal in a lawsuit brought by another El Paso County Republican who alleged he was unfairly kept from the primary ballot in the Senate District 10 primary. That decision let stand a lower court ruling that David Stiver didn't receive enough delegate votes, leaving state Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, the only GOP candidate for the seat held by term-limited state Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs Councilman Wayne Williams, an attorney and former secretary of state who represented Geitner when she intervened in the district court case, cheered Thursday's announcement.
“The Republican delegates in Commissioner District 2 overwhelmingly chose Carrie Geitner as their nominee," Williams said in an email. "At Friday’s hearing, the only evidence introduced by plaintiffs was that Dr. Klingenschmitt got one vote — that of his campaign treasurer. The court found no evidence whatsoever of any misconduct by any of the grassroots volunteers who ran the assembly. Today, the supreme court agreed.”