DENVER – El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams is well known for having testified against House Bill 1303, the problem-plagued election reform act passed by Democrats this year. Williams might be able to right the wrongs – he’s vying for Secretary of State and meeting with voters in counties across Colorado.
The Republican candidate is running against Democrat Joe Neguse of Boulder, a CU Board of Regents member whose 6-year term ends in 2015. Both Williams and Neguse are attorneys. Neguse may face a challenge for the Democratic nomination from former state Sen. Ken Gordon.
Rumors also circulated late last month that ex-Democrat lawmaker Angela Giron, who was recalled by her constituents over her support for far reaching gun control laws, may enter the race.
“The biggest difference between (me and Neguse) is that I’m the one who has actually run elections,” said Williams.
And those, he said, include primary, general and recall elections in large and small jurisdictions in and outside of El Paso County.
“I have a history in working with both parties and across the political spectrum,” declared Williams.
Williams was asked by the Democratic County Commissioners in Saguache County to run the recall election of their former County Clerk & Recorder, and Republican County Commissioners in Teller County to run the recall election of their former County Clerk & Recorder.
One of the most difficult to execute was the Senate District 11 Recall Election of former Senate President John Morse because of HB 1303 and seven versions of the rules, including changes caused by court challenges. However, Williams said his office made the adjustments necessary to ensure voter access to the polls and transparency in the process.
Resolving the confusion around HB 1303 may be the biggest challenge facing Williams if elected. He is now is seeking solutions in meetings with stakeholders including members of the Colorado County Clerks Association that helped craft the controversial law.
Williams said he would support consistent residency requirements used to determine voter eligibility – but those changes would likely have to be approved by voters in local jurisdictions. The statewide residency rule is 22 days but that differs from the 25 days and 30 days for municipal and special district elections, respectively.
This week, Williams is focused on talking with voters at meetings, events and Christmas parties in Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson and Pueblo counties.
Since filing his candidacy papers in October, Williams has listened to the concerns of voters across the state including Alamosa, Chaffee, Garfield, Larimer, Mesa, Montrose and Teller counties.
Both Neguse and Williams launched their campaigns with big-name endorsements.
Neguse’s list of 76 includes Democrats U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Congressmen Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and state House Speaker Mark Ferrandino. Neguse is also endorsed by his old boss former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat candidate in the 6th Congressional District.
Williams’ 80-endorsement roster includes Republicans former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong, Congressman Doug Lamborn, former Congressmen Bob Beauprez, Scott McInnis and Bob Schaffer, Attorney General John Suthers, former Gov. Bill Owens and Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, former House Speakers Chuck Berry, Doug Dean and Frank McNulty, and former Secretaries of State Gigi Dennis and Natalie Meyer.
“I’m grateful for all of these endorsements, and I’m very proud to have former Secretary of State Natalie Meyer supporting my campaign,” said Williams, who noted that Meyer had a stellar reputation for running the office in a professional and nonpartisan way.
Tuesday, Meyer and Suthers will appear with Williams at the Cherry Creek Republican Women’s Christmas lunch at the Glenmoor Country Club.