Brief by Dawn Easterling
Politics – July 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine
In the wake of the Democratic party’s State Assembly May 30, congressional candidate Curtis Imrie of Buena Vista accused the Democratic Party of being “lax in enforcing the rules.”
Imrie, a ballot casualty at the assembly, said Anthony Martinez continues to represent himself as a candidate even though he does not qualify.
Martinez, who lives in the San Luis Valley, admitted he stayed in the 3rd Congressional District race because he expected the party to bend the rules for him.
According to Mary Beth Corsentino, chair of the 3rd Congressional District, Martinez announced his candidacy after being registered with the Democratic Party for three months.
State law requires that candidates be registered for twelve months, a legality that would not allow Martinez to appear on the ballot.
Despite this, Martinez was allowed to speak at 23 county assemblies. Imrie charged that Martinez “muddied the waters of the democratic process.”
Imrie claimed Martinez continued to represent himself as an eligible candidate after he was warned by both Corsentino and executive officer, Darryl Eskin.
But Martinez pegged Eskin and Corsentino as the party officials who suggested the plan for suspension of the party rules.
“State law doesn’t allow you to run until you have been registered with the party for 12 months, but the party can choose whomever as a candidate,” Martinez said.
He did not explain how the Democratic Party could override a state statute, but insisted that he expected to be allowed on the ballot by a suspension of the party rules.
Martinez reported that a suspension would have required Cor sen tino to call a meeting, and take a vote. He said that Corsentino decided not to call the meeting after Imrie protested.
“I believe she did the right thing,” stated Martinez. After Corsentino elected not to call the meeting, Martinez shifted his support to his eligible friend, Reed Kelly.
Kelly received 59.7% of the vote at the State Assembly, well above the30% needed to appear on the ballot. Both Imrie and another candidate, J.B. Smith, fell short of the percentage. Martinez said he plans to be either manager or treasurer on Kelly’s staff.
Imrie said that Kelly had given him his support and “blessing” until May 20. That’s when he heard of Kelly’s sudden appearance as a candidate, which he called a “betrayal.”
Imrie clarified that it is not Kelly’s “cheap shot” he is battling, but the deceit of the public by infant Democrat Martinez in continuing to represent himself as an eligible can didate. Imrie expressed anger that Martinez “was viewed as another candidate and choice by the people,” when his name would not be allowed on the ballot by state law. Imrie felt that Martinez locked up support that could have put other candidates on the primary ballot with Kelly.
Martinez accused Imrie of becoming upset after he refused to give his endorsement. He maintained the real reason for Imrie’s discontent is his frustration at being thwarted in the caucuses for the second time.
Martinez said he wishes Imrie could be “more adult about it” and direct his efforts against Scott McInnis and the Republicans.
“Curtis Imrie is looked upon badly by the party,” confided Martinez. “He is seen as a satirist, not truly dealing with issues.”
Martinez said he believes that Kelly is the only “viable” candidate, one who will represent issues and “not be joking around all the time.”
After the dust settled from the State Assembly and Kelly’s name stood alone on the ballot, Imrie said, “Two-thirds of the eligible voters will not vote in 1998 because they understand the system is corrupt.They understand it is a dollar democracy and that special interest and insider abuse have robbed the people of their voice.”
Imrie continues to demand that Martinez quit calling himself a candidate.
So far, no one has stepped up to help Imrie. Neither the Secretary of State, nor the Attorney General seem eager to condemn Martinez, as Imrie had hoped.
As of May 30, the 3rd Congressional District ballot became a decision between Kelly and McInnis. McInnis has held the seat for six years and, like Kelly, will not have a primary because he is the only Republican to prove ballot-worthy.
Despite this elimination of players, Martinez and Imrie continue to go face to face about Martinez’s eligibility as a candidate.
The 3rd Congressional District is the size of Florida and includes 36 counties.
When Kelly contests McInnis in the November election, he will be trying to close the 11-vote gap between parties in Congress. Imrie ominously corrected, “If Kelly contests McInnis.”