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August 22, 2022 8:06 am MST

BREAKING: Sen. Kevin Priola Abandons Republican Party

  • by: Colorado Pols

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D).
UPDATE #4: Senate President Steve Fenberg rolls out the welcome mat:

Today, Senator Kevin Priola chose his constituents and Colorado’s future over partisan politics. Senator Priola has made it clear that the people of Colorado deserve leaders who will boldly take action against the most serious threats facing our country today. Instead of bowing to the pressure of corporate, special interests and right-wing conspiracies, we must continue to take aggressive action to protect the democracy of our nation and combat the climate crisis facing our planet.

Over the past four years, Senate Democrats have taken bold, meaningful action to curb emissions, prepare for climate related disasters, – including wildfires – and invest in renewable energy. And despite consistent fierce opposition from his Republican colleagues, Senator Priola has been a tremendously valuable partner of ours almost every step of the way…

Make no mistake: just as Senator Priola’s views haven’t changed, our caucus’s principles haven’t either. Senate Democrats, with the leadership of Senator Gonzales’s Reproductive Health Equity Act, secured and protected a woman’s right to reproductive health care this year. We will continue to fight to ensure that a woman’s right to choose is uninhibited in Colorado. Senate Democrats also led one of the most important expansions of workers’ rights in Colorado’s history this year through legislation granting county workers the right to unionize. We appreciate the tremendous contributions and sacrifices that working people have made over the past several years, and will continue to stand up for their rights. Where we’ve had disagreements with Senator Priola in the past, we have always maintained a respectful dialogue. That conversation will continue, only now we will be engaging him as a member of the Democratic Party.


UPDATE #3: The backlash is on:


UPDATE #2: Gov. Jared Polis welcomes Sen. Kevin Priola to the Democratic Party:


UPDATE: Strong words from Sen. Kevin Priola as he explains his decision to leave the Republican Party:

Like many Coloradans, I watched the events on January 6th with horror. I felt clearly that this would be the last straw and that my party would now finally distance itself from Donald Trump and the political environment he created. Week after week and month after month, I waited for that response; it never came. To my dismay, brave and honorable Republicans like Mike Pence, Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, and Adam Kinzinger have fought to defend the constitution and rule of law only to be met with ridicule and threats. Fear-mongering to raise money or motivate voters is nothing new, but it has been taken to a dangerous and destabilizing level. I cannot continue to be a part of a political party that is okay with a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election and continues to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen. [Pols emphasis]

Though deeply concerning, the attack on our democratic system is not the only existential thread that the Republican Party is choosing to ignore. I have become increasingly worried about out planet and the claimate crisis we are facing. The Republican party I joined decades ago created national parks, preserved federal lands, and protected wildlife. President Nixon signed the legislation that established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Today, my Republican colleagues would rather deny the existence of human-caused climate change than take action. I increasingly believe this inaction is counter to our responsibility as political leaders.


Huge news via Twitter moments ago, as Republican state Sen. Kevin Priola announces his departure from the Republican Party and re-alignment as a Democrat:

Stand by for updates and reactions.


45 thoughts on “BREAKING: Sen. Kevin Priola Abandons Republican Party

    1. The impact will depend on whether the media report it.  It could further the 'Repubs in Disarray' meme.  Oh wait, they are circling the drain in disarray.

      1. no… Democrats WERE in disarray.

        Republicans Are Revolting. [earns another smile for memories of Mel Brooks films and interviews]  I'm not certain which side is "establishment" and which side is "revolutionary" … but the party as a whole clearly is in a battle and is revolting.

  1. Wow! It says a lot when a anti-choice, pro-gun person says the GOP has gone too far astray for him to continue as one of their members.

    I am not surprised he is leaving the Cult, but I am surprised he would go all the way to Dem. I would have thought he would go Unaffiliated.

    I am guessing he does not intend to run for anything else. As a Dem, he would have a hard time getting on the ballot with his political stances, which he says he is sticking to, and if he petitioned on, he would surely be challenged and likely beaten in a Dem primary.

    1. I agree this is a move keeps himself away from Republican party criminal activity and means he doesn't have a desire to run much less be harassed by the base any longer. 

      I think that the Republican Party must be in full meltdown with only the Trumpest at the controls. 

  2. My jaw just hit the floor.  It's too heavy to pick up.

    This guy may have been the last truly formidable Republican in the state.  Now, he's not a Republican anymore.

    1. Recalls suck and they're stupid plus they're lame and morally wrong except in cases of malfeasance, but they did work in 2013. After redistricting, Priola was drawn into SD 13, which has almost exactly the same GOP and Dem number of active registered voters, but about 45% unaffiliated. You might gather by now that I sort of don't like recalls, but they're dicey because it can really boil down to turnout. 

      1. Recalls are also very expensive. They like to call the Dems "tax and spend" but the trouble with the GOP is they are all spend, without coming up with a way to pay for it.

        There is also the question of which district would vote in the recall, the one he was elected to or the one he was reassigned to via redistricting. I don't know the answer and will need some caffeine before taking on that little research project.

        1. I think caffeine would say a recall would have to be for the district he serves in. There is an active election this year in SD 25, the numbered district he was elected to.

          1. OK, had the caffeine. Did the digging.

            The statutes say the recall would be voted on and petitions signed by those who are eligible to elect his successor. To me that means the people in his new district, only a small portion of whom are from his previous district and therefore probably don't even know yet he is (sort of) their State Senator.

            To add to the confusion, his new district (SD13) is already held by another Republican who, like Priola, is in the middle of their term. So if the winner of the recall election was GOP, it could set up a primary between two incumbents, assuming the current SD13 senator is still in that district. The district is a slight lean to R (by 3.7%)

            1. Just to clarify, Sen. John Cooke is the current SD 13 senator, but he's term-limited, and he's done in Jan. 2023 right after this year's election.

                  1. Egads! Redistricting has me all confused. SD13 is not up this year which is why I thought Cooke was mid term. But it is Priola who is mid-term, but now in SD13.

                    And I thought Priola was done because his previous district IS up this year. UGH!

                    This is the problem when redistricting cuts incumbents out of their districts!

                    So back to the original point, YES Priola's conversion affects this years elections in that the GOP has to win one more seat now than previously thought to take control. Given that their best chance is a 1 seat net gain, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

                    1. Yes, it's definitely confusing. Guess if I was a D strategist I wouldn't be putting too much stock in SD 13 right now anyway, even if it's great to have a temporary pick-up. They still have to do well in the battleground-ish seats you listed below, where they're likely, leaning, or toss-up, no matter what's up with Priola.

      2. What would happen if SD13 was on the ballot this year? If he stayed on the ballot it would then be D vs. D. Would he be taken off the ballot and the Republican party would then select a replacement to run?

        1. Interesting hypothetical. Priola is in his 2nd term so is term-limited. But if he wasn't:

          We have passed the deadline by which parties have to designate their candidates for office. Since the Dems did not place Priola on the ballot, he would not be able to run as a Dem.

          The GOP would have to declare a vacancy in their nomination for SD13, and then fill it by vacancy committee. Priola would effectively be SOL.

          If this was the real world scenario, I suspect Priola would have held off on his party switch until after the election, which of course WOULD probably trigger a recall effort, assuming he won in the first place.

  3. The election hill just got a bit steeper for Republicans trying for a Senate majority.  21-14 at this moment.   17 seats out of the Colorado Senate's 35 seats are up for election in 2022.  Anyone want to game out the chance of Republicans holding their own and making a net gain of 4? 

    1. Haven’t looked at the legislative races since redistricting so I’ll take a swing at it, this is determined mostly by past performance in the area that is the new district:

      SD1 – safe R

      SD3 – leans D

      SD4 – safe R

      SD7 – safe R

      SD8 – leans D (potential D pick-up)

      SD9 – safe R

      SD11 – toss-up (currently held by D)

      SD15 – most competitive in the state (currently held by R)

      SD20 – likely D

      SD22 – safe D

      SD24 – likely D

      SD25 – likely D (likely D pick-up)

      SD27 – leans D

      SD30 – likely R

      The most likely outcome will be the GOP actually losing ground this election, potentially staying where they are if they win SD25 & SD11

    2. With Priola switching to the Dems, I think the chances of a D majority in the State Senate just went from ~65% to more like ~95%

      Republicans now need to win 12 of the 17 seats up for election and I only see 11, MAX, if everything went their way. And with the current environment, I just don't see any world where they even get that 11, let alone 12.

      I think the Republicans are well and truly screwed by Kevin on this.

      Seats up this year: (* = Incumbent)

      1 ~ Solid R ~~ -none- vs Bryon Pelton

      3 ~ Lean D ~~ Nick Hinrichsen* vs Stephen Varela

      4 ~ Solid R ~~ Jeff Ravage vs Mark Baisley

      7 ~ Solid R ~~ David Stahlke vs Janice Rich

      8 ~ Lean D ~~ Dylan Roberts vs Matt Solomon

      9 ~ Solid R ~~ Arik Dougherty vs Paul Lundeen*

      11 ~ Toss-Up ~~ Thomas Exum Sr. vs Dennis Hisey*

      15 ~ Toss-Up ~~ Janice Marchman vs Rob Woodward*

      20 ~ Lean D ~~ Lisa Cutter vs Tim Walsh

      22 ~ Solid D ~~ Jessie Danielson* vs Colby Drechsel

      24 ~ Solid D ~~ Kyle Mullica vs Courtney Potter

      25 ~ Solid D ~~ Faith Winter* vs Melody Peotter

      27 ~ Toss-Up ~~ Tom Sullivan vs Tom Kim

      30 ~ Solid R ~~ Braeden Miguel vs Kevin Van Winkle*

      32 ~ Solid D ~~ Robert Rodriguez* vs Dean Flanders

      34 ~ Solid D ~~ Julie Gonzales* vs -none-

      35 ~ Solid R ~~ Travis Nelson vs Rod Pelton

        1. Why? Priola's conversion has no affect on this year's election. He is term limited, so was leaving office in Jan. anyway. His old district's candidates will not be affected in any way, and his new district is not up this year.

          1. No, Dano. Priola’s term runs through 2024. So, yeah, the Trump party would need to gain 4 new seats. Dems will start with 13 holdovers, including Priola. Add three heavily D seats and they have 16 There are seven rated toss-ups so even two victories there leaves Ds in control.

  4. Wonder if Sen. Priola will show up to the Mario Nicolais, former state Rep. Cole Wist, former FirstBank CEO John Ikard, and political activist Margaret Ash fundraiser: Nicolais wrote “I am hosting a fundraiser for Brittany Pettersen. We are each politically unaffiliated but have chosen to support Pettersen’s congressional campaign for a myriad of reasons.”

    1. I would sign up, but I'm traveling over the upcoming weekend. I'll have to check things out after Labor Day. She was my senator for a couple years. Never heard much from her, but she also wasn't making headlines either like the "trailer trash chick" from Silt.

  5. Priola did not leave the Republican Party.  As with Michael Bowman and myself, it left him.  No one who believes in truth and science, let alone duty, honor, country, can believe in the Trump/McCarthy party.


            1. 2Jung's sally reminds me of the late '60s joke that it was time to start a third party presidential run on the McCarthy/Wallace ticket.

              The theory was leftists would think it was Gene and Henry.  Righties would think it was Joe and George.

    1. Took him long enough. I’ve been watching his votes for a while. He’s an environmentalist and the Rs won’t be happy ’til they’ve fracked the length and breadth of the state. I know he’ll be a conservaDem; still, glad to have him on our team. Karen was an R when we met; a fiscally conservative, socialy liberal R, but an R nonetheless. As the Rs grew less tolerant of social liberals, she realized she didn’t belong there anymore.

      1. After I switched parties I had a long talk at the county convention with a woman who seemed familiar.  She said we had had a similar talk years earlier at the Republican convention when we were both Rs.

        Then, she laughed and said the reason I might be having trouble placing her was that: "Of course, I was a man back then."

         Now, THAT was a switch!

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