Republican Recalls: Voter Suppression After the Fact

Bob Seay

Recalls of Democratic lawmakers in Colorado are not about making sure lawmakers faithfully represent their communities. Quite the opposite. These strategic recalls are designed by Colorado Republicans to nullify the results of the 2018 election and to gather information for the 2020 election.

They are voter suppression after the fact.

Republican attacks on Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) are a good example of this kind of election nullification. Tom Sullivan was talking about gun control when he defeated a Republican incumbent and won his seat in the Colorado House of Representatives. It was impossible for him to avoid. Tom Sullivan’s name has been linked to gun regulation since 2012, when his son was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting. Tom made gun control the centerpiece of his campaign when he ran for State Senate in 2016. When he did not win that election, he ran in the next available opportunity, the 2018 Colorado House race. Again, his campaign centered on gun control. Tom Sullivan eloquently and boldly addressed an issue that most politicians won’t even touch.

In 2018, the voters decided he was right.

Now, Colorado Republicans expect us to believe that 54% of the voters of traditionally conservative Centennial, Cherry Creek, and South Arapahoe County did not know where Tom stood on guns. Or at least that’s what they claim. It’s either that, or they think that 54% of the total votes cast should not be counted and just don’t matter.

This recall isn’t about malfeasance or misbehavior. Recalls should be reserved for officials that have betrayed the trust of the voters or have broken a law. The only misbehavior Tom Sullivan committed was standing up to the NRA and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In doing so, Rep. Sullivan has shown more courage than most elected officials at any level and of any political party, Democrats included.

Kristi Burton Brown, an attorney and the vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party, said Tom was being recalled because “he did not represent the families of Colorado.” Maybe Tom Sullivan does not represent Ms. Brown, Ken Buck, and their friends in the Republican Party, but he was elected by an 8 percent margin to represent the people of his district.

Is it that hard for Republicans to accept that the people of Colorado House District 37 just aren’t that into them anymore? This is the same district and same election that unseated Mike Coffman and sent Democrat Jason Crow to Congress.

Republicans don’t want lawmakers who represent the people of Colorado, or at least not a lawmaker that represents an evolving district like Colorado House District 37. Republicans want to impose their failed policies on all of Colorado, including cities and counties that clearly rejected those policies in 2018. With these recall efforts, Republicans are clearly putting Party ahead of People.

We cannot allow recalls to become the weapon of choice for political parties that continue to be out of step with the majority of voters.

The GOP does not get to override the will of the voters, especially when that intent was expressed as clearly as it was when District 37 elected Tom Sullivan.

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Bob Seay for Colorado

About Bob Seay for Colorado

I am a high school music teacher in Lamar, Colorado. I am also the Secretary of the Colorado Democratic Party and a former congressional candidate. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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