Colorado law defines a minor party as having polled less than 10 percent of the vote in a gubernatorial election. That may happen this year. The latest polls show Democratic candidate Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper at 49%, American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo at 39% and Republican candidate Dan Maes at 9%.
Going from major party status to a minor party (and vice versa) has big implications. These fall into two categories: campaign funding and the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot.
Donors to major party candidates can contribute up to the max for both the primary and the general. Donors to minor party candidate can max out only once.
To run for the Colorado Legislature a major-party candidate needs 1,000 signatures, or 30% of the number of votes cast in the last primary, while a minor-party candidate needs about half that. The difference is even greater in higher offices. A major-party candidate for governor needs to collect 1,500 signatures from registered voters from each of the seven congressional districts, while a minor-party candidate has to collect only 1,000 signatures from registered voters across the state.
This will make it difficult for the ACP candidates, and probably result in a flood of Republican wing-nut candidates.
This all came about in this wacky primary season when the angry and frustrated Republicans turned out for Tea Party candidate Maes. Feeling that Maes wouldn’t stand a chance against Hickenlooper, the publicity seeking Tancredo told him to drop out or he would run as a third party candidate. Had Maes dropped out, Tancredo allegedly would have quit and the Republican elites (not the voters) would select a presumably more competitive candidate. Neither would budge. So now the Republicans may wind up being a minor party in Colorado.