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October 11, 2022 10:27 AM UTC

Court Does Overzealous Priola Recallistas Big Thankless Favor

  • by: Colorado Pols
State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, a Denver district court judge has thrown a monkeywrench into the gears of the GOP’s revenge recall campaign against Sen. Kevin Priola of Adams County, ruling after weeks of effort that the campaign should have waited until the new district boundaries Sen. Priola is set to represent are operative:

Denver District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses ruled that the recall organizers must wait until Jan. 9 to initiate their effort to oust Priola. That’s when the 2023 legislative session begins and when Priola will begin representing Senate District 13.

It’s unclear what happens to the recall petition signatures that have already been collected, though it appears they must be scrapped. It’s likely that tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent by the recall organizers, who said they were on track to collect enough signatures to force a special recall election…

Colorado’s recent history with crackpot failed recalls by Republicans teaches very clearly that you can never, ever take these campaigns at their word when they claim they are “on track” to deliver the signatures needed to force a recall election. While it’s easier to meet the requirements for recalls in legislative districts than statewide offices, the only signature estimate that counts is what is actually turned in to the Secretary of State’s office.

Having said that, the ruling in this case makes good sense: Republicans led by up-and-coming Republican provocateur Michael Fields wanted to rush the recall forward in the newly redrawn district Priola represents while partisan tempers were hot, but Priola doesn’t actually represent that new district yet–thus denying residents of Priola’s current district their own rights in the matter. If anything, the Democratic Secretary of State’s decision to allow to recall to proceed in the new district was overly deferential to Republicans.

Moses, the Denver judge, found that state elections officials likely erred when they decided the recall should take place in District 13, which leans in the GOP’s favor. Senate District 25 is a political tossup.

“The recall Petitioners have argued that if they are not able to circulate a recall petition until January 2023, they will likely be represented by Sen. Priola throughout the entire 2023 legislative session,” Moses wrote in her ruling. “While that may be true, such a timeline is consistent with (the Colorado constitution).”

Notwithstanding the money this recall campaign has already blown collecting signatures that will have to be recollected, the judge in this case did Republicans another favor despite themselves by pushing the recall back to 2023. The distraction of this recall petition campaign with a literal Election Day deadline could have ended up being blamed for any underperformance by Republicans in overlapping races in the general elections next month–and still might, even if the campaign stops today.

The simple reality is that the 100% partisan vengeance message behind the Priola recall effort is a bad fit with swing voters Republicans need to be contacting with their field campaign efforts right now. Priola’s decision to defect from the Republican Party provokes blind rage from partisan Republicans, but swing voters want to know why–and that’s a conversation Republicans don’t want to have outside their bubble of dogmatic support. The legal questions about the timing and location of the recall made committing resources to the petition campaign before they were resolved a risky proposition, and organizers got burned by their haste.

The partisan anger at Sen. Priola may be very real. But when you get angry, you make mistakes.


5 thoughts on “Court Does Overzealous Priola Recallistas Big Thankless Favor

  1. IOW, SoS Jena Griswold was wrong again, and Benedict Priola will be get what he deserves eventually.

    I'm patient. It will be great whenever it happens.

  2. I don't recall Fluffy complaining when Steve "the Perv" Lebsock joined the GOP as he was being shown the door by his colleagues in the legislature.

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