Any candidate (that chooses to participate in the assembly) that gets 30% or more of the vote will make the primary ballot.
If a candidate does not participate, the candidate may gather signatures to make the primary ballot. For instance, U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton is not participating in the assembly for strategic reasons. Her primary rival, Ken Buck, is participating. Both will be on the primary ballot.
The Governor's race, however, presents an interesting strategic choice. GOP establishment candidate Scott McInnis is by far the favorite to win the nomination and take on Democrat John Hickenlooper. However, he faces two challengers. Only one, Dan Maes, is participating in the assembly. If Maes doesn't get 30% of the vote, he is done.
Joe Gschwendter, a relative latecomer to the race, will not participate in the assembly but will petition on to the primary ballot. Gschwendter, according to sources, has far more campaign money than Maes and might raise enough to put up a reasonable effort against McInnis.
Both Gschwendter and Maes position themselves as anti-establishment candidates. They hope to ride the current anti-establishment wave to victory over McInnis.
This presents an interesting strategic question for McInnis:
Would he be better off in a head-to-head matchup with Gschwendter or in a three way race that includes Maes?
I submit the answer is clear. In a head-to-head race, all the anti-establishment vote will be consolidated against McInnis. McInnis would still be the favorite, but he will want to avoid consolidated opposition if he can. His chances for success go up if the anti-establishment vote is split between between Gschwendter and Maes.
McInnis WANTS Maes on the primary ballot.
Therefore, what if the McInnis vote counters determine Maes is just shy of 30% at the assembly? Would it not make strategic sense for McInnis to have some of his delegates switch their votes to Maes to insure a three-way race?
Makes sense to me.