Effort To Recall Rep. Tom Sullivan Is Pulled After It Drew National Attention

· Jun. 11, 2019, 5:03 pm
Photo: Tom Sullivan Red Flag Legislature 2 HV
State Rep. Tom Sullivan speaking on the Colorado House floor in favor of HB 1177, the Red Flag bill on March 4, 2019. Sullivan, a freshman lawmaker, campaigned for office in part to enact tougher gun control laws after his son Alex was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting.

Published 11:03 a.m. | Updated 11:56 a.m.

The recall against Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan is no longer moving forward. GOP supporters decided to pull their signature gathering effort to put a recall vote on the ballot.

Kristi Burton Brown, the vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party who initiated the recall, posted the decision on her Facebook page.

“We have been able to confirm everything we already knew: Tom Sullivan’s days as a State Representative are almost over,” Burton Brown wrote. “While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is.”

Sullivan is from Centennial and it’s his first year as a state lawmaker. He beat a Republican incumbent last November. He was one of the main sponsors of the so-called “red flag” gun bill. The measure, which Gov. Polis signed on April 12, allows courts to temporarily remove firearms from people who are considered a danger to themselves or others. The law will go into effect in 2020.

Critics contend it is a broad overreach that violates the Second Amendment and cite it as one of the reasons they wanted to remove Sullivan from office.

Sullivan said he had his sunscreen on and was just filling up his water bottle to head out and knock on doors in his district when he got word the recall had been pulled.

“Now you just kind of change lanes,” he said. “We were on the highway. Now we can move ourselves over to the country roads, talking to voters and putting things together. We’re certainly not taking our foot off the gas, but we can do things more leisurely.”

National Democrats were involved in the effort to help Sullivan. U.S Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut sent out a fundraising email. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders sent out a tweet in support and Sullivan told CPR that Sen. Elizabeth Warren personally called him. And on Tuesday, the nation’s leading gun-violence prevention groups announced more than $100,000 to support Sullivan.

“If there was any chance of this recall succeeding they wouldn’t be running away from it, and their statement shows that they learned nothing from this failed attempt,” said a statement from Our Colorado Way of Life, the issue committee fighting the effort. “We hope that they will cease this endless election cycle and let voters decide Colorado’s future during normal elections, but we are ready to beat them again if they launch additional recalls.”

One GOP operative called the decision to pull the plug a devastating blow to Republicans that could hurt efforts to get money behind other potential recall efforts. He said there were internal disagreements on messaging and strategy.

Burton Brown wrote on Facebook that the “best strategies are unified strategies and, in order to accomplish the most good in the shortest time, we have decided to pull essential resources from this recall and free up volunteers to help finish the National Popular Vote petition effort and to focus on recalling Democrat Senators who are not up for re-election in 2020.”

Republicans were never in lockstep with the Sullivan recall to begin with. Sullivan’s son Alex was murdered in the Aurora Theater shooting and many in the GOP thought it was a waste of resources to go after someone with a compelling personal story in a seat that wouldn’t determine control of the House.

Republican Rep. Lois Landgraf of Colorado Springs thought the focus should always be on 2020.

“We’ve got one year to replace [Sullivan] with a Republican,” she told CPR in May. Some Republicans worry that could be even more difficult given the attention and Democratic support Sullivan received over the recall attempt.

Republicans had also tried to recall former Democratic Rep. Rochelle Galindo in Greeley. She resigned after it was revealed she was the subject of a police report. A woman who had worked on Galindo’s campaign told the Greeley police she had a brief sexual relationship with Galindo last fall and felt she was “being taken advantage of.” The woman alleged that she was blacked out during some of their sexual encounters. The case did not move forward.

Galindo was cited for providing alcohol to a 19-year-old.

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