Other Recalls Could Still Be Brewing After Effort Dropped Against Rep. Tom Sullivan

June 12, 2019
Photo: COLEG 2019 | Garcia And Holbert Senate Chamber - AP
Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, left, confers with state Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Castle Rock, in the Senate House chamber in the State Capitol, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Denver.

The state's GOP has abandoned the recall effort against Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan, but other legislative recall campaigns may be in the works. 

In announcing the end of signature gathering, the organizer of the Sullivan recall said resources should instead be focused on state senators, many of whom won’t be up reelection for several years. Democrats only have a two-seat majority in the Senate, so flipping a few seats there would have a much greater impact than in the House, where they have broader control.

The Secretary of State's office said there are no petitions in the works to recall specific senators. It did field an inquiry earlier this year from someone interested in recalling Democratic Sen. Jeff Bridges. Nothing came of it, however, because the man realized he does not live in Bridges’ Greenwood Village district, a prerequisite for launching a recall petition.

“It’s got to be more than one issue. There needs to be other political factors that come together to make an elected official vulnerable,” said former Colorado GOP Chair Dick Wadhams. “That should be the prime consideration: Does it make sense from the community standpoint? Is there enough ... grassroots support?”

He said that organizers have to be strategic because a failed recall effort can leave its target stronger than before, something Wadhams believes happened in Sullivan’s case.

Wadhams and others think one senator who could be vulnerable to a recall effort is Pueblo Democrat and Senate President Leroy Garcia. Voters in his district recalled another Democratic senator in 2013 over her support of gun control and other Democratic policies.

“His vote for [tougher oil and gas regulations] also impacts his community in terms of the pipe that is manufactured by steelworkers in Pueblo for the oil and gas industry,” Wadhams said. “Along with the fact that he exercised no leadership in trying to kill the ‘red flag’ bill ... I think his constituents wanted some leadership in that.”

Garcia did not support the red flag bill that has been the focal point of much of the talk that surrounds recalls.

An issue committee was formed in March with the mission of recalling Garcia, but so far it’s raised little money and hasn’t submitted any petition language to the state.

Colorado Democrats were quick to go on offense against the idea that more recall campaigns might be coming.

“They clearly haven’t ended their scheme to undermine democracy, since their statement indicates they’re still window shopping for Senate seats they can try to steal through a recall effort,” Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll said in a statement. “Voters saw through this sham before, and they’ll see through it again if the Colorado Republican Party launches more recalls.”

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