The sight of dozens of plastic tubs being unloaded from a white truck in front of the state Capitol on Friday morning attracted a crowd of curious out-of-state tourists and political activists.
The tubs contained recall petitions targeting Gov. Jared Polis, and the crowd gathered around them quickly learned the groups trying to remove the governor from office failed to get the 631,000 signatures they needed to put Polis' fate on the ballot.
Karen Kataline, a spokesperson for the recall effort, claimed the group gathered more than 300,000 signatures. But because they are not being turned in to the secretary of state's office, it's unlikely that figure will ever be verified.
"One thing is certain. This is not the end of the discussion, it is just the beginning," Kataline said.
Kataline said the signatures weren't going to be submitted because doing so would legally prevent groups from launching other recall efforts against Polis in the future.
At a press conference, she listed a number of grievances against Polis ranging from his signing of the bill to join the national popular vote compact to his support for Senate Bill 181, which gives local governments more power to regulate the oil and gas industry.
Lauren Boebert supported the effort to recall Polis. She made a three-hour trip to the Capitol from Rifle to learn whether enough signatures had been collected.
"Of course this is heartbreaking but I would never consider this a failure," she said. "There are so many people that jumped on board that would have never voiced their opinions before."
In a written statement, Polis labeled the recall effort against him a "sideshow."
"After all that fuss, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't turn in a single signature on the recall," Polis said. "I hope the remaining misguided efforts against others see the same results as (State Rep.) Tom Sullivan's did before. Recalls should not be used for partisan gamesmanship."
The failure of the recall effort didn't surprise David Beaudoin, who follows recall efforts nationally for the site Ballotpedia.
"It's a lot of signatures that folks have to gather when people are trying to recall a statewide elected official, so it's not surprising especially given the short timeframes that are involved," he said. "There just haven't been many recall elections for governors in the last 100 years."
Conservatives who were trying to recall Polis had 60 days to gather the signatures before Friday's deadline.
Beaudoin said he's aware of four other recall efforts targeting governors this year, including Oregon's Kate Brown.
But in the history of the country, only two governors have ever been successfully removed via recall elections.
Those governors included California's Gray Davis in 2003, and North Dakota's Lynn Frazier in 1921.
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