State Rep. Rochelle Galindo said Friday she believes efforts to oust her from office through a recall are motivated by “radical extremist” views targeting her race and sexuality, even as Republican opponents pushed back on that idea.
“I’m not only the first openly gay person to be elected to statewide office from Weld County, I’m also the first person of color,” Galindo told KUNC. “So, I think this whole recall issue has nothing to do with my votes and everything to do with who I am as a person.”
Galindo’s comments came a day after the Colorado Secretary of State’s office approved a recall petition, giving her opponents the go-ahead to collect signatures.
The anti-Galindo group, called the Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo, now has until June 3 to gather about 6,000 signatures within Galindo’s district, House District 50. The signature threshold represents 25 percent of HD 50 voters, which includes Greeley, Evans and Garden City residents.
If they succeed, a question on whether to re-elect the Greeley Democrat could go on a ballot later this year.
Meanwhile, Republicans supporting the Galindo recall said their efforts weren’t a personal attack.
Stacey Kjeldgaard, a committee volunteer and former Weld County GOP chairwoman, said the group isn’t concerned with Galindo’s identity as a gay, hispanic woman.
“Absolutely not,” Kjeldgaard said. “There may be peripheral people, but for us it’s about oil and gas.”
Galindo voted “yes” on Senate Bill 19-181, a major overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations. The bill’s opponents argue it’s a potential job-killer that received little input from the industry. It’s still awaiting Gov. Jared Polis’ signature.
Galindo has also supported increasing funding for full-day kindergarten, controversial gun legislation and laws aiming to give local municipalities the power to set their own minimum wage, among other bills.
Kjeldgaard said her anti-Galindo committee has raised over $100,000 so far. An additional $273,000 has been pledged in verbal commitments, she added.
As of Friday, the Secretary of State’s website for the Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo did not list an official fundraising amount. Another similarly-titled group’s page also listed no fundraising information.
Joe Neville, an organizer with Values First Colorado, a statewide political action committee working alongside Kjeldgaard’s recall effort, echoed her concerns.
“(Galindo has) overreached on pretty much every key issue that concerns the people of her district,” he said. “The people are upset and they have a reason to be upset.”
Galindo won her seat last November with about 53 percent of the vote. She succeeded Democrat Dave Young, who now serves as Colorado's treasurer.
Galindo, in an interview with KUNC, brought up Young’s support for a similar bill in 2017. That legislation addressed forced pooling.
“The county commissioners thanked him for that,” Galindo said. “I think it’s interesting that I’m getting faulted for my vote on 181 when Dave did the exact same thing. So I think the real question is what’s the difference between me and Dave?”
Galindo isn’t the only politician facing a recall threat. A campaign to oust Gov. Jared Polis is also gaining ground. However, per Secretary of State rules, supporters must wait 6 months from the time he entered office to submit a recall petition.
Recall efforts have succeeded in the past. In 2013, two state senators fell victim to recalls.
Democratic Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron voted in favor of controversial gun control legislation. Both eventually lost their seats.
Pro-Galindo fundraising pages have also popped up in anticipation of a stand-off. A new website with the headline “STAND WITH ROCHELLE” in bold capital letters requests donations of $10, $25, $100 and “other” amounts.
Galindo said she ultimately views the situation as an attempt to distract her from her work at the state Capitol.
“I’m confident we will beat this effort,” she said. “Voters voted for me for a reason.”
Editors note: A previous version of this story included an incorrect first name for Joe Neville. The story has been corrected.