Campaign To Recall Senate President Leroy Garcia Plans To Turn In Signatures

Bente Birkeland/CPR News
Sen. Leroy Garcia, the senate president, talks to a constituent in Pueblo on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. A recall effort has formed against the lawmaker over recent legislation on gun control and oil and gas regulations.

Supporters of an effort to recall Pueblo’s Leroy Garcia, the Democratic Senate President, say they will turn in signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State's office Friday Oct. 18, the day of the deadline.

If they do, it will be the first recall campaign this year to make it to that point. Five other attempts to unseat Colorado politicians ended without the groups submitting any signatures.

In order to force a recall election for Garcia the group will need 13,506 valid signatures.

Campaign volunteer Dave DeCenzo wouldn't divulge the number of signatures they have collected but said there wasn't as big of a margin as they'd hoped, since many are likely to be ruled inadmissible for various reasons.

"Voter intimidation is really hard to overcome," DeCenzo said.

The group set up a few tables in an old warehouse in downtown Pueblo, only to have Democrats rent the adjacent parking lot. Recall organizers were also blocked from gathering signatures in the Walmart parking lot in Pueblo West, a spot they relied on for the successful recall effort against former Democratic Sen. Angela Giron in 2013.

Garcia won in November with more than 70 percent of the vote against a Libertarian challenger. He thinks a recall election would be a waste of taxpayer dollars and an abuse of the process, because his opponents are upset about policies he supports, not an ethical breach.

While Garcia took a more moderate stance than many in his caucus on some issues, like gun control, organizers say he's contributed to Democratic overreach at the statehouse.

Recall supporters say it all goes back to when Democrats gained control of the state legislature and every major statewide office. Since then, Republicans have blasted Democrats for moving too far to the left on gun control, passing stricter oil and gas regulations and backing a new law that could commit Colorado’s presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote.

The Secretary of State's Office has three weeks to certify the signatures. Any potential recall election would likely happen in 2020 during the state's annual legislative session.

The slate of recall efforts over the last several months has divided the GOP and in some cases galvanized Democrats. Curtis Hubbard with Democracy First Colorado said he doesn't expect this effort to be any different from the others.

"One thing is crystal clear from the recall scams that have fewer wins than the Broncos this year: Don't take anything the grifters, sore losers and extremists say at face value. We will believe it when we see it."