DENVER – Democrats may lose another seat in their quest for a super majority in the state Senate if Republican Lang Sias of Arvada edges past state Sen. Evie Hudak of Westminster.
Hudak had a 332-vote advantage as of press time, but the outcome hinges on several thousand uncounted votes – and a possible legal challenge.
Hudak and Sias were listed on the ballot with Libertarian candidate Lloyd Sweeny of Arvada, but it appears that Sweeny is not a valid candidate.
According to the Secretary of State’s website, Sweeny failed to file the required candidacy affidavit and any campaign finance reports.
Search candidates for Senate District 19 in the 2012 election – only Hudak and Sias appear. Check candidates by name – Sweeny is listed as a “terminated” state House candidate in 1998.
This ballot error “sounds unprecedented,” said a former county clerk and recorder.
Unknown is what recourse the candidates and people who cast votes for an ineligible candidate would have. They could file complaints, and possibly lawsuits to invalidate the election, and force a new election between Sias and Hudak.
Had the Libertarian candidate not been on the ballot, Sias would likely have seized those votes and defeated the Democrat, said former state GOP chair Dick Wadhams.
But even if Sweeny was not a valid candidate, it’s unlikely a new election would be conducted.
Wadhams and others speculated that the practical outcome would be to simply omit votes for an invalid candidate in the final count.
The unofficial SD 19 election results last week reported 34,359 votes for Hudak, 34,027 for Sias and 4,823 for Sweeny.
Jefferson County published the ballot that was certified by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office which also posted the 2012 roster of candidates, including Sweeny, on its website.
Unknown is why the roster included a candidate who had not legally filed his candidacy papers and subsequent campaign finance reports.
With the exception of Sweeny, Libertarian legislative candidates filed the required candidate affidavits, most between February and April 2012.
In 1998, Sweeny filed a candidate’s affidavit and campaign finance reports in his bid for the House District 27, a seat now held state Rep. Libby Szabo (R-Arvada). Then, Sweeny reported contributions of $2,289, including $1,354 of his own money, and after remaining dormant for years the campaign was deemed “inactive” in 2009.
The Secretary of State’s office did not return calls Friday. No email or phone number was found for Sweeny.
This past weekend, Republicans and Democrats were tracking down more than 2,000 voters in Jefferson Countywhose mailed ballots had not been counted because of discrepancy in signatures, weren’t signed or required ID validation.
Jefferson County Elections did not have a total of the uncounted provisional ballots cast at polls and overseas ballots. Sources said, however, said there are 6,000 to 8,000 provisional ballots that need to be pre-verified in the county.
Voters will be notified by letter of problems and given eight days to address them.
The ballot count will also affect two neck-and-neck local races. Jefferson County Commissioner Republican John Odom has a 133-vote edge over Democrat challenger Casey Tighe in District 2. In the Regional Transportation District M race for board of directors, incumbent Matt Cohen trails Natalie Menten by 115 votes.
“There are several thousand overseas and provisional ballots countywide that could affect the outcome,” Sias told his supporters. “We will of course do everything in our power to move the process along quickly, in order to provide closure for the voters, my opponent and our terrific team.”
Senate District 19 is one of the top four Senate seats targeted by Democrats and Republicans. Democrats won Senate District 26, re-electing state Sen. Linda Newell of Littleton over Republican Dave Kerber of Greenwood Village, and Senate District 22, delivering state Rep. Andy Kerr over Republican state Rep. Ken Summers, both of Lakewood.
Republicans prevailed in Senate District 35, electing Larry Crowder, a rancher in Alamosa, over Democrat Crestina Martinez, a Costilla County commissioner.
If Republicans win the SD 19 race, they will hold 16 of 35 state Senate seats – but the outcome may not be known until late December if there’s a recount or a challenge is filed.