U.S. District Court Upholds Colorado Law, Letting Individuals Donate Twice as Much Money to Candidates who run in Primaries, Versus Candidates who Get on Ballot via Convention or PetitionMarch 2nd, 2013
On February 27, U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer, a Bush Jr. appointee, upheld Colorado law that lets individuals give twice as much money to the campaign of a candidate who is nominated in a primary, versus a candidate who is nominated in a minor party convention or by independent petition. Riddle v Hickenlooper, 1:10-cv-1857. Here is the 33-page decision.
The decision says that it is rational to let individuals give $400 to a legislative candidate who runs in a primary, and to restrict individuals from giving more than $200 to a legislative candidate who gets on the November ballot via a minor party nominating convention or via an independent candidate petition, because candidates who must run in a primary are expected to have more campaign expenses. The opinion acknowledges that in recent years, only 11% of legislative candidates who participated in a primary had a primary opponent. But, the opinion says even primary candidates who have no opponent often spend money in primary season “to clear the field of potential challengers, to spend money on campaign literature, to secure volunteers, and to purchase web domains.”
The irony is that this case was fild by Kathleen Curry, who had to run as a write-in candidate in 2010 (the year the case was filed), and running a successful write-in campaign is more expensive than running when one is on the ballot. Successful write-in candidates usually must send direct mail to every voter in the district, if they can afford it; they also do things like distributing literature at the polls, outside the “no politics zone” and that is very expensive also. Plaintiffs will appeal. Curry, an incumbent, was forced to be a write-in candidate because she had changed partisan affilation (from Democratic to independent) in October 2009 and the law barred candidates from qualifying as independents if they had been a member of a party during the year before qualifying. That law has since been relaxed.