Season Of Recall Attempts Ends With No Success For Colorado Conservatives

Oct 18, 2019

Colorado conservatives have spent the last six months knocking on doors and manning recall booths around the state as they tried to convince residents to help them remove six Democrats, including Governor Jared Polis, from office.

Some invoked the Apollo missions when the odds seemed to be against them. They faulted Democratic lawmakers for using their new majority in the legislature to pass oil and gas reforms, join the national popular vote compact and pass an extreme risk protection order bill, which allows police to take guns away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

But the season of recall attempts came to an abrupt and unceremonious end for those conservatives on Friday when Pueblo residents trying to recall State Senate President Leroy Garcia arrived at the Secretary of State's office in Denver carrying Budweiser boxes containing just four signatures.

They needed more than 13,500 to trigger a recall election.

In a statement, supporters of the recall effort against Garcia said they didn't reach their signature goal in part because they weren't allowed to gather them outside Walmart and other local businesses.

They also claimed they weren't turning in more of the signatures they gathered because they weren't confident they'd hit the signature threshold. Any signatures that are turned in can't be used in a future recall effort against Garcia.

It was the fifth time a recall effort ended in failure this year. A sixth targeting former state Rep. Rochelle Galindo came to an end when the lawmaker resigned before signatures could be submitted.

Opponents of the recalls were quick to respond Friday to the failure of the last pending recall.

"The scammers behind this year's recalls have flamed out in spectacular fashion - but not before lining their pockets and loading their databases with money and personal data from unsuspecting Colorado voters," Curtis Hubbard, a spokesman for Democracy First Colorado, said in a statement. "These efforts have been deceptive to the bitter end, and we are not at all surprised by this outcome, despite recent reports to the contrary. Senator Garcia is serving Pueblo well - a sentiment voters across the district reaffirmed in the thousands of conversations we have had over the last 60 days."

State Rep. Tom Sullivan talks to volunteers who helped him convince voters not to sign a recall petition. Sullivan was one of five Colorado Democrats to survive a recall effort after signature gatherers came up short.
Credit Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage

Hubbard's strong words for the proponents of the recalls followed similar statements from Democratic officials, including one from Polis last month that labeled the efforts "misguided" and "partisan gamesmanship."

The recall efforts also divided conservatives, with some of them saying they weren't the best strategy after Republicans lost control of the state senate in the last election.

Patricia Arcuri, of Aurora, specifically opposed the recall effort against Gov. Polis.

"He's already there, he's already done his thing," Arcuri said at the Western Conservative Summit in July. "To recall him is probably going to stir up a hornet's nest of people who don't normally vote because they're going to be mad. Let's just go to the next election and get them all out."

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Eleven public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.