Polling data continues to indicate that Colorado Republicans are in big trouble in 2020. But instead of organizing phone banks or fundraisers in the 50 days left before Election Day, a group of GOP activists have decided to hunker down and focus instead on trying to recall Gov. Jared Polis.
You may recall that in 2019, Republicans tried to recall a half-dozen different Democrats in Colorado. All of the recall attempts failed miserably — and we do mean miserably. The Colorado Republican Party supported these efforts to varying degrees before eventually calling for a full evacuation from Hurricane Recall. That message was apparently not received by some activists, as Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Monday approved the petition drafted by “Recall Polis 2020,” which is tied to at least one of the people behind the failed efforts last year to remove the Democrat from office.
The organization has 60 days — or until Nov. 13 — to collect 631,266 signatures to force a special election to decide whether or not Polis, who is halfway through his first term in office, should be recalled.
Thus far, the Recall Polis 2020 issue committee, formed on June 10, reports raising only about $4,000 in cash. Organizer Lori Ann Cutunelli, of Summit County, reported donating more than $7,300 to pay for drafting the petition wording and to make a downpayment on printing costs. Additionally, a GoFundMe campaign has raised about $7,600 from 275 donors.
If you’re still worried that this new Polis recall effort might be successful, go ahead and read this paragraph:
Greg Merschel, one of the people behind Resist Polis PAC — which Coloradans Against Polis was formerly known as — is listed as one of the organizing members of Recall Polis 2020.
We’d love to explain this better, but we’d need an entire office wall and two rolls of red string to map out the lunacy in full.
Efforts at recalling Polis in 2019 did not end well, unless you measure success based on how many people you trick into writing you a check; in fact, you could make a strong argument that the primary purpose of trying to oust Polis was so that a couple of people could earn some extra cash. There were at least two separate groups claiming to be the “real” recall effort in 2019. “Resist Polis” and “Official Recall Jared Polis” sniped back and forth for months, and by the end of their “campaigns” they were openly rooting for each other to fail.
The “Resist Polis” campaign eventually held a comical press conference outside of the State Capitol in Denver, where several plastic boxes full of “petition signatures” were piled up on the West Steps as proof that “Resist Polis” did a thing. Organizers claimed to have collected more than 300,000 signatures, though they refused to submit their bounty to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for verification. We can at least confirm that some of the boxes definitely contained pieces of paper.
Confusion about the recall Polis efforts persisted until the very end. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, now the Republican nominee for Congress in CO-3, literally drove across the state so that she could be there in person when the recall petitions were (not) submitted.
When Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was asked about the recall efforts last summer, he was perplexed that Republicans would be spending time and resources focusing on work that was completely unrelated to the upcoming 2020 election. As The Denver Post reported in July 2019:
Even the state’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, danced around the question when asked about the Polis recall.
“You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … ,” Gardner said at a recent Republican Party event in El Paso County. “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”
Gardner wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea of trying to recall Polis; he was more concerned that organizers were diverting the attention of volunteers and donors when the GOP really needed them for the actual upcoming election. This was definitely a problem for Republicans in 2019, but in 2020 it’s an outright disaster.