Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has a deeply partisan past, a dedicated cadre of supporters, a long list of enemies, a colorful nickname bestowed by liberal detractors and a Web site dedicated to “watching” him. The scrutiny will only get more intense between now and November as the “honey badger of Colorado politics” — a reference to the ferocious, fearless animal — presides over voting in a battleground state that could help decide the presidency. Gessler may be the most closely watched election official in the country, heightened by Colorado’s prominence, his ready-to-rumble personality and a series of loud disputes with what he has termed the “angry left.”
The Republican has led fellow secretaries of state around the country to question whether noncitizen voters have contaminated state rolls, though results of their investigations have been modest. He has sued local election officials to keep them from mailing ballots to what Colorado calls inactive voters and has been sued over efforts to loosen the state’s campaign finance laws.
Colorado Democrats do not mince words. “I think he has worked with the Republican Party and secretaries in other states to come up with these schemes to do everything they can to shave off a half-point or 1 percent of the Democratic vote,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio. “That’s their plan to win.” There is no doubt how Gessler, who previously represented Republicans as an election lawyer, wants the fall contest to turn out. He has endorsed Mitt Romney, said President Obama’s agenda must be “stopped” and told a GOP group that a good election was one in which Republicans won (he says everyone knew he was joking).