Colorado Democrats Face Recall Efforts During Heated Legislative Session

<p>Hart Van Denburg/CPR News</p>
<p>Inside the Colorado state Capitol Feb. 5, 2019.</p>
Photo: Inside The State Capitol HV Recall Efforts
Inside the Colorado state Capitol Feb. 5, 2019.

Recall efforts are underway against several Colorado Democrats in the statehouse, some of whom have only served in office for a few months.

The campaigns started popping up this legislative session after two groups organized against Gov. Jared Polis earlier in March. They've followed heated and polarizing legislation this session, including a ‘red flag” gun control bill, oil and gas reforms and the National Popular Vote law.

Rep. Rochelle Galindo, who represents Greeley, Evans and Garden City, is the target of two recall groups. Secretary of State records show that “The Official Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo” and “Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo” both registered as issue committees earlier this week.

Former Weld GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard is with the Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo and said the group is mostly concerned about oil and gas regulation and Senate Bill 181. Weld County is the No. 1 producer of oil and gas in the state.

Kjeldgaard said the group wants to know where Galindo stands on the issue. She said at a roundtable meeting on Saturday that Galindo hosted, the representative said she was only there to learn about the bill.

“We don’t want somebody that’s learning about 181. We want somebody that’s in the fight for oil and gas, and she really just hasn’t come to the table for that,” Kjeldgaard said. “She is turning her back on oil and gas employees and her own constituents that have very, very good jobs in that industry.”

Kjeldgaard said Weld County is also pro-Second Amendment and is against House Bill 1177, an extreme risk protection order that would allow courts to temporarily remove guns if someone is deemed a danger to themselves or others. She said Galindo failed to meet with Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams and Polis about the bill.

In a statement from Conor Cahill, a spokesman for Colorado House Democrats, Galindo said she is there for her constituents.

“I’m listening to the voices of my constituents and am focused on delivering results for District 50,” Galindo said in a statement. “I was born and raised in Greeley and have lived in various places throughout the district my entire life, and am honored to represent our community.”

Polis told Colorado Matters on Monday that the people behind the recall efforts against him shouldn't be surprised by the legislation brought forth at the statehouse.

“Literally, it was in my commercials ... How many times did I say of course I would sign an extreme risk protection order?” he said. “This is exactly what I said I would do during the campaign.”

Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, Rep. Bri Buentello of Pueblo, Otero and Fremont counties, Sen. Jeff Bridges of Greenwood Village, Rep. Meg Froelich of Englewood all face recall efforts. There is also one against Republican Sheriff Tony Spurlock of Douglas County.

The Pueblo Chieftain reported Wednesday that Pueblo West Republican Jerry Eller told a small audience “it couldn’t be easier” to start recall campaigns against the Governor and other Pueblo-area Democratic lawmakers.

“All you need is three people and you can start a recall committee,” he said.

In order to recall Polis, the groups will need to collect signatures from 25 percent of the number of the voters who cast a ballot in the last election for governor. So the groups will need more than 631,000 signatures in the 60 days after the petition is approved by the state’s office to get the recall on the ballot.

On top of that, no recall effort can begin circulating until after a governor has been in office for at least six months. State legislators do not get the same grace period, but still need 25 percent of votes cast to get the recall on the ballot. Kjeldgaard said she’s confident the Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo will be able to get the 5,696 signatures needed in 60 days.

No recall petitions have been approved by the state’s office for circulation as of Thursday.

As of today, the Secretary of State's office has not approved any recall petition formats for circulation. As petition formats are approved, we will list the approvals on our website at: #coleg #copolitics

“We have this provision in Colorado law and the way that Coloradans participate in democracy, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see,” said Colorado Secretary of State office spokeswoman Serena Woods.