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U.S. Senate candidate Lorena Garcia speaks at a senate forum held at Centennial Middle School in Montrose Colo., Sunday Oct. 20, 2019. (William Woody, Special to the Colorado Sun)

A Denver judge on Thursday placed a second Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate on the June primary ballot even though she didn’t collect enough signatures to qualify for the election.

Denver District Court Judge Christopher Baumann, in a ruling from the bench, ordered that community organizer Lorena Garcia should be on the ballot because she collected more than half the necessary signatures to qualify for the election.

Baumann earlier this month placed nonprofit leader Michelle Ferrigno Warren on the Democratic primary ballot even though she didn’t collect the 10,500 signatures — 1,500 from Democratic voters in each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts — needed. He ruled that the coronavirus crisis created an environment too difficult for her campaign to collect signatures.

Ferrigno Warren collected just over half of the necessary signatures, which Baumann said indicated she had enough support to participate in the primary.

Garcia also asked to be placed on the ballot given the challenge coronavirus posed in collecting sufficient signatures. She was more than 1,000 short of the required signature threshold, but collected well over half the 10,500 she needed.

“COVID-19 has turned everyone’s world upside down, including political campaigns, and we are pleased with the decision of the court,” Garcia said in a written statement.

The Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is challenging the ruling in Ferrigno Warren’s case. The Colorado Supreme Court is expected to rule soon in the matter.

It’s not clear how Griswold will proceed in response to the decision in Garcia’s case.

“The Secretary of State’s Office wants to ensure our democratic processes remain accessible and fair, and recognizes the ongoing challenges posed by the coronavirus,” Betsy Hart, a spokeswoman for Griswold, said in a written statement. “In light of this ruling, we will consider the various options and determine that best path forward.”

Ferrigno Warren blasted Griswold for appealing the ruling.

“This reeks of D.C-style politics & everything wrong with our government,” Ferrigno Warren said on Twitter. “The role of the Colorado Secretary of State is to oversee fair & just elections & empower voters at the voting booth, not cherry pick who makes the ballot in the midst of a pandemic.”

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Ferrigno Warren speaks to a voter a senate forum held at Centennial Middle School in Montrose on Sunday Oct. 20, 2019. (William Woody, Special to the Colorado Sun)

Already on the June ballot are former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

MORE: Here’s who’s running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020 — and who’s thinking about it

The winner of the June primary will face Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in November. Gardner, who is in his first term, is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP members of Congress up for reelection this year.

Baumann earlier this week ruled that another Democratic U.S. Senate primary candidate who failed to collect enough signatures to be in the June primary should not be added to the ballot.

Baumann said that because psychologist and climate activist Diana Bray didn’t collect at least half the signatures needed her campaign didn’t show enough support to warrant her being on the ballot.

The Colorado Sun —

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage.

A Colorado College graduate, Jesse worked at The Denver Post from June 2014 until July 2018, when he joined The Sun. He was also an intern at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, his hometown.

Jesse has won awards for long form feature writing, public service reporting, sustained coverage and deadline news reporting.

Email: Twitter: @jesseapaul