Search Results for: neville recall

Please, Please Don’t Throw Me Into the Recall Thicket!

“Everywhere you look, people are circulating petitions to recall elected officials throughout the state. And yes, it’s all a little silly.”

The Pueblo Chieftain (July 18, 2019)

As you may have heard, there are a lot of nonsense recall campaigns being instituted by a handful of disgruntled Republicans still steaming over big election losses in 2018. Most, if not all, of these recall efforts appear doomed to fail because of disunity, disorganization, and a general lack of sense.

On Thursday, Republican Nancy “Don’t Call Me Pelosi” Pallozzi received official approval to restart her recall of State Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), apparently after the group realized that they were basing their complaints in part on legislation that Pettersen never even had a chance to vote on (not to mention that the group was trying to collect petition signatures well outside of Pettersen’s actual Senate district).

Newspaper editorial boards across the state have been calling out these recall efforts for months. On Thursday, the editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftain took its turn at the piñata:

If you support the brand of democracy that our country’s founders intended, then you should be worried by all this…

Absent some scandals or demonstrations of monumental incompetence, these recall efforts have to be viewed as what they really are — attempts to undo the will of the voters. The recall supporters are like those kids on the playground who always insisted on a “do-over” every time they lost a game. [Pols emphasis]

Do you want to make this summer a little less silly? Then don’t sign a frivolous recall petition.

The Chieftain makes a very succinct point in this regard by using the example of the various convoluted recall efforts targeting Gov. Jared Polis:

There’s been no indication he’s done anything illegal or improper during his first six months-plus on the job. To the contrary, he’s shown himself to be pretty much the person he advertised himself to be on the campaign trail last year. [Pols emphasis]

Are there people who disagree with some of his initiatives? Sure. Those were, in large part, the same people who voted against him last November. But guess what? Polis won that election, with the support of the majority of the state’s voters.

From The Durango Herald (April 12, 2019)

The Greeley Tribune made a similar argument in March about recall efforts targeting then-Rep. Rochelle Galindo:

The best advice we can offer recall backers is put your money into electing a better candidate in 2020. [Pols emphasis] In 2018, 22,783 people cast ballots, with more than 12,000 voting for Galindo. Republican candidate Michael Thuener received more than 10,000 votes, but still lost by 7 percentage points.

Recall elections are costly, especially considering the two-year timeline of elections for the District 50 seat. Instead, it’s fine to oppose Galindo, but let her do her job. Then if she’s not working for this community, elect a new candidate, but do it in 2020.

The Galindo recall was the first such effort of 2019…and also the first to acknowledge that its actions were strictly an attempt to re-do the November election. Back in April, former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard candidly (or accidentally) admitted that that Galindo recall effort was mostly about the fact that she was a Democrat and not because of any of her actions or votes at the State Capitol.

“Recall is a tool voters should use only to remove people from office who are seriously negligent in performing their duties or are engaged in official misconduct.”

The Grand Junction Sentinel (June 18, 2019)

A few months later, the Grand Junction Sentinel hit on the same points:

Some Coloradans don’t like recent legislative outcomes, so they’re interested in either changing them or punishing lawmakers for taking certain positions…

…Throughout its history, The Sentinel has taken the position that recalls are only appropriate in cases of malfeasance or incapacity. Competence is in the eye of beholder. One voter’s anger over a legislator’s record is another’s joy. There’s a huge difference between recalling someone because they are corrupt and trying to remove them from office because you disagree with their policies.

Ditto Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry from May 14:

There’s a handful of loosely related far-right extremists trying to undermine Colorado’s election system to serve their own political purposes. Among them is Joe Neville, who runs a political action committee called Values First Colorado. He’s the brother of GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville, a champion for snuffing bills like Colorado’s red flag law in favor of arming teachers with guns in schools. Joe Neville wants to recall a few Democratic state lawmakers because they voted for bills focusing on things like protecting children from sexual abuse by providing better sex ed at school, and a bill making sure local cops aren’t tools of national immigration police.

We’re not talking about extreme measures like making kids get their vaccines or making bikers wear motorcycle helmets, we’re talking about no-brainer legislation that real people in Colorado have repeatedly said they want.

These recalls are beyond Colorado crazy. This is Trump crazy.

About a month earlier, the editorial board of the Durango Herald explained how previous recall efforts merely proved that organizers were the ones who were out-of-touch with Colorado voters:

Colorado in this respect has been spooked by 2013, when two Democratic members of the state Senate were recalled, including the Senate president, after they supported gun-control measures. (Durango Rep. Mike McLachlan, another Democrat, also was targeted.) Republicans were elected in their stead, and then, in the 2014 election, they were defeated by Democrats. It was a circular exercise.

Last year, an effort to recall La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt, one of two Democrats on the three-seat board, fell just short of the number of petition signatures needed. Then, in November, voters put a third Democrat on the commission.

“Oh, please don’t try to recall me.”

And here’s the editorial board of the Denver Post from April 10:

Some of the folks who are spinning this web of outrage, especially state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, should know better. His vocal support of the recall efforts of Sen. Jeff Bridges, Rep. Meg Froelich and Rep. Rochelle Galindo is painting him and the caucus he leads as political operatives rather than thoughtful lawmakers doing the work of the people at the Capitol.

Colorado Republicans aren’t really pretending that these recall efforts are anything other than an attempt to line the pockets of consultants and sidestep Colorado voters in order to sneak in a few more Republican lawmakers. As these editorials show, the folly of these recalls look the same anywhere you travel in Colorado.

We’ve thought for awhile now that the idiocy of these recall efforts is backfiring on Colorado Republicans by giving Democrats new reasons to organize and reach out to voters a year ahead of the next election. Ol’ Brer Rabbit would be mighty proud.

Gardner Pours Cold Water on Polis Recall

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner, former state Sen. Tim Neville.

Cory Gardner thinks Colorado Republicans should focus on winning the next election, not recalling Democratic Gov. Jared Polis from office.

Asked about the Polis recall, Gardner recently told El Paso Republicans, as first reported by The Denver Post:

GARDNER: “You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … . “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’s comment aligns with the views of establishment figures within the Colorado Republican Party, who’ve said repeatedly that recall organizers will never collect enough signatures to get the recall measure on the ballot–and the effort itself makes the Republican Party look petty, whiny, and chaotic in the eyes of swing voters. 

But the organizers of the Polis recall have the loud backing of conservative talk radio hosts and many party activists, who are livid at the governor for signing laws this year addressing gun-safety, the presidential popular vote, and comprehensive sex-ed, among other alleged transgressions.

Recall backers also say their organizing efforts will help them win next year’s election, bolstering their voter lists and identifying more volunteers and activists.

Gardner’s decision to publicly throw water on the Polis recall came as a surprise to some political analysts, who’ve noted that Gardner has already angered Republican activists to the point where they have given him a chilly reception at the state’s largest gathering of conservatives, the Centennial Institute’s Western Conservative Summit.

KNUS radio host Randy Corporon has speculated that Gardner was considering skipping this year’s Summit, in part, because he didn’t get a fully “warm reception” there last year. Gardner has decided to attend the gathering this weekend.

On the other hand, Gardner has pleased Republican activists by, among other things, endorsing Trump and approving Trump’s declaration of a national emergency for the purpose of funding a border wall.

How The Hell Can Patrick Neville Remain Minority Leader?

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Over the weekend, a Denver Post guest opinion piece from former El Paso County Republican Party chairman Joshua Hosler shocked the local political chattering class with allegations of threats both overt and delivered via sinister anonymous phone calls against Hosler for his criticism of powerful conservative activist group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In particular, Hosler alleges that Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s chief of staff Jim Pfaff threatened to expose alleged professional and personal misdeeds if Hosler didn’t “back off” RMGO.

Last night, Denver7 ran a follow-up story on the fallout from Sunday’s disclosures, and got a response from Minority Leader Neville about the actions of his chief of staff on behalf of RMGO–who in addition to being a political ally is also a registered lobbying organization before the General Assembly:

House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville, who is a supporter of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners sent a statement to Denver7 about the infighting among Republicans saying it’s time for the party to come together.

“…Party infighting needs to stop. We achieve great things when we come together to fight for liberty and freedom. The Democrats know we cannot be defeated if we stand together. My Chief of Staff made amends and publicly said so. He has done a great job with this caucus. Unfortunately, we still have some in the GOP who would prefer to divide us. [Pols emphasis] It is unfortunate, but it will not deter us,” Rep. Neville’s statement read.

As you can see, Minority Leader Neville doesn’t think his chief of staff’s threats on behalf of RMGO are the problem here. The problem as Rep. Neville sees it is Joshua Hosler, for daring to second-guess the decision by Colorado GOP vice chair Kristi Burton Brown, Minority Leader Neville, and RMGO to pursue a recall of freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan. Now that the Sullivan recall campaign has collapsed in a heap, it’s clear in retrospect that Hosler was right–but that’s criticism, as you can see, that Republicans in high places do not want to hear.

We’ll leave it to lawyers to assess the criminality of the threats made against Hosler by Neville’s chief of staff on behalf of RMGO, but politically this is a totally unacceptable situation. To have a state employee threatening a member of the public on behalf of an organization that both lobbies the legislature and contributes to candidates and campaigns is an outrageous conflict of interest that under ordinary circumstances would send the responsible party to the unemployment line.

But not only will Jim Pfaff keep his job, Minority Leader Patrick Neville is blaming the victim.

Folks, this is not normal. These are fundamental, essential standards being violated. It has been long suggested that the rise of the Neville clan and their allies at RMGO to dominance of the Colorado Republican Party represents something new and more sinister than any other force in contemporary Colorado politics–even accounting for such distasteful figures as Tom Tancredo.

Now it’s on display for all to see.

Sullivan Recall: Kiss That Cash Goodbye


9NEWS’ Kyle Clark put a headstone Monday on the failed attempt by the Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown with support from House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and allies (see below) to recall freshman Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan with a look at the “recall campaign’s” fundraising reports–reports that allegedly show precisely $0 raised or spent on the effort. But as anybody who knows how unaccountable “dark money” flows among nonprofit political organizations can tell you, it would be silly to think that’s the whole story:

KYLE CLARK: The failed attempt to recall Democratic State Rep. Tom Sullivan did not raise one dollar and it did not spend a dollar. We learned that from some financial filings. Now that sounds funny unless you heard us saying weeks ago that this recall was really about a gun rights group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. The head of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners says, they funded the entire recall and guess what? They don’t have to disclose their donors.

So we are left to take that special interest group at its word that this was not just a fundraiser designed as a recall that was never going to succeed. We are left to take them at their word that they took in $30,000 and spent more than that $45,000 on a failed signature-gathering effort.

If those happen to be your dollars, and your trust, my condolences.

Because recall elections are–controversially–not considered candidate elections but rather “issue questions” under campaign finance law, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is not technically required to spend disclosable funds in support of a recall of a state legislator. This works the other way, of course, though the instigator of a recall by definition bears the full moral responsibility for all such spending. But just as we’ve observed with the mission-impossible recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis, raising money quickly becomes the principal objective–and if the goal is simply to amass cash, a recall that doesn’t go forward is a much more lucrative endeavor.

As the old saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted. But in the era of “ScamPACs” and saturation-level solicitation for donations to all manner of fly-by-night political committees and campaigns, it’s extremely important that donors be aware of not just who they’re giving to, but what the specific plan is for spending their money–including obvious contingencies like the campaign unceremoniously folding up because it was the worst Republican decision since Darryl Glenn.

In every sense of the word, we hope all money donated to RMGO to recall Tom Sullivan was “disposable.” The only thing these donors can say about their money now…is that they don’t have it anymore.

Root Cause of Recall Disaster Is Establishment Republican Calcification, Says GOP Activist

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial).

Former GOP congressional candidate George Athanasopoulos defended Colo House GOP leader Patrick Neville, pro-gun activist Dudley Brown, and others today against accusations that they botched a recall campaign against Democratic lawmaker Tom Sullivan of Centennial.

“Anybody who’s trying to finger [Patrick Neville, Joe Neville, or Dudley Brown] for the blame is either misguided or is straight lying for their own benefit,” said Athanasopoulos on KNUS’ Chuck and Julie Show this afternoon.

“The story I heard is that [Brown] contracted [a firm to gather] signatures,” said Athanasopoulos. “There was a contract. There were benchmarks. There were stipulations. There were agreed-upon prices, and [the signature-gathering firm] absolutely failed to deliver. Instead of throwing good money after bad, they did the responsible thing, which was [to] say, ‘Hey, we’re going to pull the plug.'”

“This illustrates the fact that we have a political class, consultants here in Colorado, who are inept, who lie, who cannot meet contractual obligations. It’s the same thing we’ve been talking about on the air for years,” said Athanasopoulos “It’s a never ending clown show of pigheaded buffoonery, to use a colorful term.”

So why aren’t there better GOP consultants in town? Athanasopoulos traces the problem to moneyed Republicans hiring their consultant friends for short-term gigs instead of developing local firms who are both competent and trusted.

“Instead of hiring fly-by-night firms, who hire anybody with a pulse, who may or may not be Republican — in fact, are probably not — we need to stand up something organic,” said Athanasopoulos on air. “There are lots of young Republicans in the state of Colorado, lots of them, who would love to have a part time job supporting the Republican cause.”

Co-host Julie Hayden, a former Fox 31 Denver reporter, says the established consulting firms squash the newcomers.

“If you come in here and try to open up another consulting agency, they will destroy you,” said Hayden. “And they make it impossible. So we have this group, as you said, of incompetent clown shows that won’t let go of the reins and won’t let the voters do what they want.

“George, I think you’ve hit it on the head, and it’s why we keep harping on this, about the establishment people, the donors and the consultant class who control Colorado politics in this state, and they’re just doing a horrible job!” said Hayden on air. “They can’t get anybody elected.”

RECALL RECAP: Where Do Republicans Stand Now?

The vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Kristi Burton-Brown, wrote on Facebook today that “in order to accomplish the most good in the shortest time” she and her allies are abandoning an effort to recall Colorado State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) and instead are focusing on “recalling Democrat Senators who are not up for re-election in 2020.”

It’s not clear if Brown’s new strategy will win over fellow Republicans who opposed this year’s recall efforts. But here is a sampling of range of opinion within the Republican Party, as expressed before Brown’s announcement today.

OPPOSED TO RECALLS

Former State Rep. Cole Wist (R-Centennial) — “Recall fever is at odds with governing. It is designed to keep you riled up, to keep the contributions flowing, to feed the beast.

Tyler Sandberg, former Colo Congressman Mike Coffman’s Campaign Manager — “Great work taking a swing seat and making it safe for Democrats. Real bang up job, guys.”

Ryan Call, Former Chair of the Colorado Republican Party — “…what we saw during the legislative session is consistent with what most Democratic candidates said they would do while they were running.

 

SUPPORT RECALLS

State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), GOP House Minority Leader, “This is unprecedented overreach. We need to do something. If there is a grassroots effort that starts percolating up, then I am going to help them.

Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party. — “Rep. Tom Sullivan needs to be recalled because, like the rest of the Democrats in the legislature this session, he did not represent the families of Colorado.”

Dudley Brown, founder of Rocky Mountain gun Owners, “I hope you’ll consider making a generous contribution to our Red Flag Recall fund.”

CU Regent Heidi Ganahl and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) — (clapping in support)

 

LEANING AGAINST

Former State Rep. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) — “There’s something that’s just too partisan, too much of a do-over with a different voting base than I am comfortable with.“)

Michael Fields, Colorado Rising Action– “Recalls can identify people, but it also can strengthen elected officials that survive them.”

BREAKING: Sullivan Recall Implodes

UPDATE #5: The Denver Post’s Anna Staver:

“This gives Rep. Sullivan and the Democrats a victory,” said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chairman. “Clearly, it was unwise to start this fight.”

Wadhams said he thinks recalls have a place in Colorado’s political process, but they need to be “well thought out.” And he isn’t convinced it’s a good idea for state party leaders to wade into the process before one gets on the ballot — even acting as a resident, as Kristi Brown said she was — because it makes any failed attempt look like it’s a failure of the GOP.

“The Colorado Republican Party was all over this aborted recall attempt,” Wadhams said. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE #4: Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland:

“If there was any chance of this recall succeeding they wouldn’t be running away from it, and their statement shows that they learned nothing from this failed attempt,” said a statement from Our Colorado Way of Life, the issue committee fighting the effort. “We hope that they will cease this endless election cycle and let voters decide Colorado’s future during normal elections, but we are ready to beat them again if they launch additional recalls.”

One GOP operative called the decision to pull the plug a devastating blow to Republicans that could hurt efforts to get money behind other potential recall efforts. [Pols emphasis] He said there were internal disagreements on messaging and strategy.

—–

UPDATE #3: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown has posted a statement to RMGO’s official Facebook page that is fairly defensive about how donated funds are/were being spent:

“I take the responsibility of spending RMGO donors’ money quite seriously,” said Dudley Brown, RMGO’s Executive Director. “At this point, the best use of our resources is to refocus on other efforts.” [Pols emphasis]

“It’s clear from our work on the ground in HD-37 that Sullivan is out of step with his constituents and Colorado at-large,” continued Brown.

The statement goes on to include this nonsensical assertion: “Our work on the ground in HD-37 has made it clear that voters are ready for a change.”

Obviously, it is completely illogical to claim that “voters are ready for a change” in an announcement about ending a recall attempt in HD-37, but nothing in this recall attempt ever made sense anyway.

—–

UPDATE #2: Here’s a video clip from Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck’s election as party chairman that hasn’t aged well:

Note enthusiastic applause from Sen. Cory Gardner too! We look forward to the follow-up questions.

—–

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger asks the next logical question:

To which the answer appears to be “no.” Ka-ching!

—–

Rep. Tom Sullivan (D).

Word breaking from numerous sources that Colorado Republican vice chair Party Kristi Burton Brown is ending the hotly controversial attempt to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial:

The Democrats were so scared by this recall that they pulled out every stop to defend Sullivan: from Attorney General Weiser to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Democrat Socialists screamed their “outrage” and exposed their true colors. Nearly $100,000 of out-of-state money was spent almost immediately to defend the Democrats’ radical agenda.

We have been able to confirm everything we already knew: Tom Sullivan’s days as a State Representative are almost over. While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, [Pols emphasis] Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is. The best strategies are unified strategies and, in order to accomplish the most good in the shortest time, we have decided to pull essential resources from this recall and free up volunteers to help finish the National Popular Vote petition effort and to focus on recalling Democrat Senators who are not up for re-election in 2020.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a Denver Post story this morning in which Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ Dudley Brown expressed doubts that the signature drive would be successful:

“We’re not confident,” Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Dudley Brown said Monday when The Post asked whether the recall will get onto the ballot. “It’s been tough work.” [Pols emphasis]

The audaciousness of the recall campaign against Rep. Sullivan, who was elected on a platform of gun safety legislation after his son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, has dominated headlines and effectively stymied the GOP’s declared strategy for initiating recalls in numerous legislative districts–and in doing so severely weakened the momentum Republicans arguably possessed toward the end of the 2019 legislative session.

The division this recall attempt has caused within the Republican Party is not going away either, particularly given the role of GOP leadership figures like Kristi Burton Brown and Minority Leader Patrick Neville. Republicans disgusted by the overreach of attempting to recall Rep. Sullivan over other more vulnerable Democrats–and there are a considerable number of such Republicans today–must also reckon with the fact that this “faction” is in effective control of the Colorado Republican Party. Are Colorado House Republicans really prepared to go into the 2020 election cycle with the Nevilles at the helm after they waded into this misguided recall? Right after losing 2018 in an historic landslide?

We’ll be updating this post throughout the day with coverage and reactions. It’s anybody’s guess what happens next. The magnitude of this defeat for the whole Republican Party in Colorado, no matter which side of this particular recall individuals came down on, will take some time to become fully evident. At the very least, this is a cold bucket of water for anyone with “recall fever.”

It’s a very big deal though. The game, once again, has completely changed.

The Real Overreach: Sullivan Breaks GOP Recall Strategy

Rep. Tom Sullivan (D).

As Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports–as word spreads nationally about the attempt by Colorado Republicans to recall freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was murdered in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting leading to Sullivan’s run for office on a platform of gun safety, everybody and their mother is lining up not just to defend Sullivan, but plant the flag on this pivotal issue with Sullivan as the standard-bearer:

National Democrats are getting involved in the effort to help Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan survive a recall challenge that threatens to remove him from office…

“When the gun industry attacks one of our own, it’s important for us to respond in kind and demonstrate that our movement to save lives is just as powerful as they are,” wrote Democratic U.S Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut in a fundraising email he sent on Sullivan’s behalf. Murphy asked people to split a $35 donation between Sullivan’s recall effort and his own work to change gun laws.

“The gun lobby is trying to force a recall election to try to defeat Tom and the other Democrats who sponsored the bill. If our side wins, it’s a devastating blow to an already reeling gun lobby. And so Tom needs our help right now to defeat this recall effort.”

Birkeland reports that prominent Democrats from across the country have been in touch with Rep. Sullivan since the announcement of the recall effort against him. Sen. Chris Murphy in particular has been a leading proponent on the issue since the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting that occurred a few months after the Aurora theater shooting. We expect the involvement of these national players will escalate as the mid-July petition deadline approaches.

This is happening for an important reason. The recall campaign against Sullivan has received far more and far wider press coverage because of who Sullivan is. Although Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and their allies in GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s political machine promised lots of recalls, it’s been nearly two weeks since the launch of the Sullivan recall by state party vice chair Kristi Burton Brown with no new petitions approved to circulate as of this writing. Even if more recall petition announcements are made today or after the long holiday weekend, Tom Sullivan has been firmly planted in the public consciousness now as the principal target.

And that, gentle readers, is a messaging disaster for the GOP.

By singling out the lawmaker with the most powerful story to tell in defense of his vote for 2019’s popular gun safety law, the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, Republicans have chosen the battlefield–and it’s by far their riskiest choice politically, and has the greatest chance of backfiring with lasting consequences for Republicans both in and outside of HD-37. If Republicans were to successfully recall Rep. Sullivan over a law enjoying 80% public support, the moral outrage against them would further stigmatize the party ahead of the next general election with no real effect on the Democratic majority.

On the other hand, if Democrats successfully defend Sullivan, Republicans look no less like soulless villains going into 2020 and the seat is lost for the rest Sullivan’s term. We’ll confess to some surprise that Republicans chose Tom Sullivan as the centerpiece of a strategy they have staked so much on. It’s even more surprising that they’ve let two weeks go by with no attempt to get control of the message while the Sullivan recall became national news.

It’s how a bad idea gets worse. And there’s no end in sight yet.

Sullivan Recall Implosion: Whining About RMGO Is Not Enough

Cory Gardner with Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

The week’s political news in Colorado has been dominated by the approval of petitions to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, a campaign kicked off by the vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party Kristi Burton Brown with support from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s family political consulting operation. As most of our readers know, Tom Sullivan’s son Alex was murdered in the July 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, which led to Tom’s run for office on an unapologetic platform of enacting gun safety legislation.

The announcement of the recall against Sullivan has been met with severe and in some notable cases bipartisan backlash, with Democrats morally outraged by the threat to Sullivan for keeping his most sacred campaign promise and some moderate Republicans fearfully warning that the attempt will backfire with the voting public in HD-37–cementing Democratic control of a winnable swing seat for Republicans, and sideswiping the credibility of attempts to recall lawmakers in other parts of the state.

In a Denver Post column today, conservative writer Krista Kafer sums up the desired frame for Republicans who see the danger of going ahead with the recall of Rep. Sullivan, laying 100% of the blame for the situation at the feet of RMGO–to the exclusion of “Republicans” Kafer calls on to stand up to RMGO as though they are a distinct entity:

It is not enough to condemn behind closed doors RMGO’s depraved behavior, as many do. The GOP needs to openly rebuke these tactics and to act to ensure they fail. I am calling on my fellow Republicans and fellow gun owners to refuse to sign the recall petition against Rep. Tom Sullivan and to vote against the measure should it come to that.

There will be opportunity in the 2020 election to hold this legislature accountable for its actions. The legislature passed several pieces of legislation that are antithetical to economic prosperity, personal freedom, and constitutional rights. Ideas have consequences and the cost of these harmful laws will be evident over time. Republicans can make a strong case that new leadership is warranted. If, however, Republicans do not oppose the morally corrupt tactics of RMGO, we will not deserve to make a comeback.

Since news of the Sullivan recall broke early this week, there’s been a consistent effort by Republicans who don’t support it to insulate the Colorado Republican Party as a whole from the recall effort. The problem with this, of course, is that the recall was filed by the vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party. With the party making no attempt to distance themselves from the actions of Colorado GOP’s vice chair, no one else should either.

But even that’s not the full picture: over many years and accelerating after the 2013 recall elections, RMGO has worked successfully to install their favored candidates by winning Republican primaries. That reshaping of the Republican caucus is a major reason why close RMGO ally Patrick Neville was able hold on to his minority leadership position even after 2018’s devastating losses and allegations of mismanagement.

Whether it’s a genuine moral objection as is plainly the case from Rep. Sullivan’s Republican predecessor Rep. Cole Wist, who admits now that he was “in denial” of the extent of RMGO’s control of the Colorado Republican Party, or simple lucidity of the destructive political consequences of recalling the father of an Aurora shooting victim over gun safety legislation, the bottom line is the same: the problem is bigger than Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In fact, vilifying RMGO while the party they effectively control carries out RMGO’s agenda makes everyone who engages in that diversion culpable.

And until the “civil” Republican talking heads accept that, Kafer is right: they don’t deserve a comeback.

Neville: Removal of Ryan Call As Chair of Fundraising Committee Would Be “Wise Move”

(It’s war. For Colorado Republicans, it’s always war. – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Republican leaders expressed what appeared to be cathartic disagreement yesterday over whether to support a move by Colorado’s Republican Party to recall a state lawmaker for backing a gun-control bill, after the lawmaker, whose his son died in the Aurora theater massacre, campaigned on the issue.

The dispute prompted a top Colorado Republican to say it would be a “wise move” to oust the former leader of the Republican Party from his chairmanship of a key GOP fundraising committee.

Colorado’s GOP House minority leader, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, made the comment on KNUS radio during day of intense infighting among conservatives, which opened wounds, inflicted by Republicans on themselves, that have been festering under the party’s skin for at least a decade here.

The pain was evident on Twitter, where warriors representing factions of the Republican Party put aside restraints and publicly denounced one another’s stances.

After a conservative radio host Chuck Bonniwell slammed Tyler Sandberg, who was former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign manager, for telling a news site that Trump has a “less than zero” chance of winning in Colorado, Sandberg tweeted, “Chuck, take my advice, put down the meth pipe.”

But the proposed recall campaigns, opposed by the deep-pocked oil and gas industry and other corporations, were the focus of most of the day’s debate.

Former Colo GOP Chair Ryan Call came out against the recall campaign of State Rep. Tom Sullivan of Aurora, which led to this conversation on KNUS 710-AM’s Chuck and Julie Show, with Neville and hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden:

(more…)

WTF: Bizarre Sullivan Recall Launch Confounds Colorado Politics

UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

The Republican who lost his seat last year to Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan said Tuesday that he does not support efforts to recall Sullivan over the recently passed red-flag bill.

Cole Wist’s remarks came a day after paperwork was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office that allows Sullivan’s critics to begin collecting signatures. Sullivan, of Centennial, has been a vocal gun control proponent since his son, Alex, died in the Aurora theater shooting.

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UPDATE: Former GOP Rep. Cole Wist, who lost in 2018 to Rep. Tom Sullivan after Rocky Mountain Gun Owners turned on him, denounces the recall attempt:

This is truly a remarkable moment in Colorado politics.

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GOP operative Tyler Sandberg slams RMGO.

We’re less than 24 hours into the attempted recall of freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial by Kristi Burton Brown, the vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party and longtime ally of the Neville family of politicians and operatives–who are in turn closely linked with the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the hard-right single-issue advocacy group with a reputation for bloodying fellow Republicans in pursuit of caucus unity.

But by far most notable about yesterday’s oddly low-key launch is the highly visible and public lack of Republican consensus on initiating this recall attempt–with the substantial wing of the party not aligned with RMGO denouncing the group, the Nevilles, and the hit on Rep. Sullivan. Colorado Public Radio:

“Recalls can identify people, but it also can strengthen elected officials that survive them. The long-term strategy has to be to win November elections,” said Republican political consultant Michael Fields, who heads Colorado Rising Action.

Former GOP chairman Ryan Call said initiating recalls is “a dramatic departure from the historic role and practice of the Republican party in Colorado.” He added that the party historically gets behind recall efforts if there’s malfeasance or if someone in public office is acting in a way that doesn’t align with campaign pledges, which he doesn’t see as the case here.

“We have seen a pretty significant shift in public policy under single-party control of state government, but Democrats are pretty much governing how they promised they would,” [Pols emphasis] Call said. “Voters may have hoped for a more balanced and bipartisan approach, but what we saw during the legislative session is consistent with what most Democratic candidates said they would do while they were running.”

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette confirmed RMGO’s eager involvement in his story today, which anyone with knowledge of Kristi Burton Brown’s ties with the Neville political machine could already have surmised:

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line Second Amendment advocacy group, is committed to help Kristi Brown oust Sullivan, said Dudley Brown, executive director of RMGO.

“I welcome any group that wants to jump in on it,” Kristi Brown said. “A lot of Colorado parents in my district are upset with Rep. Sullivan and the way he voted.”

The response to yesterday’s news that Rep. Sullivan would be the next Democrat targeted for recall, especially the unenthusiastic response from fellow Republicans, underscores a longstanding divide between the Neville/RMGO axis anchored by Minority Leader Patrick Neville and the rest of the Republican establishment in the state. The recent exposure of highly questionable management of the 2018 House campaigns managed by the Nevilles, which resulted in the smallest GOP House minority in decades, has put the once-formidable political dynasty on the defensive–enough so that they were given a dubious welcome at best when they arrived to “help” with the now-defunct recall campaign against Rochelle Galindo.

But more importantly, going after Tom Sullivan, whose powerful backstory inspires both personal sympathy and support for his agenda of reducing gun violence, is politically hazardous to the point of being totally inexplicable. We’ve talked to a number of smart people on both sides of the aisle, and literally no one can understand why RMGO would start with Rep. Sullivan, kick off the campaign against Sullivan without other targets among which to distribute the backlash–and above all let the news break with no attempt to control the message. To say this is not how you’re supposed to do things is an understatement, and we’re left wondering if they simply didn’t care how it looks to the outside world.

Either way, there is a bipartisan consensus following yesterday’s news that a recall of Rep. Sullivan would be a grave mistake–both objectively for our state’s politics, and politically for Republicans. And that is something we did not expect to see, at least not so quickly and so openly. After years of struggling for dominance within the GOP, the overreach of this recall attempt could represent the beginning of the end for the Nevilles and RMGO.

And Now They’re Trying to Recall Tom Sullivan

UPDATE #2: Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland confirms that the recall against Rep. Tom Sullivan was initiated by none other than Colorado GOP vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown:

A campaign to try to recall Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial from office is official. The effort is directly linked to the Colorado Republican Party — which historically has stayed out of many recall efforts and not initiated them.

“Rep. Tom Sullivan needs to be recalled because, like the rest of the Democrats in the legislature this session, he did not represent the families of Colorado,” said Kristi Burton Brown, an attorney and the vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party. She filed the request with the secretary of state.

Kristi Burton Brown has a long association with the Neville political machine, serving as the filing agent for the Values First “independent expenditure” group that (mis)managed the 2018 House GOP’s defeats. The vigorous pushback this attempt seems to be getting from within the Republican Party is indicative of a serious intraparty divide–in addition to what’s expected to be overwhelming public distaste for recalling the father of an Aurora shooting victim for passing popular gun safety legislation.

What happens next? We’ll all find out together. But it’s not going to be pretty.

—–

UPDATE: The problems here are obvious…

—–

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) speaks about his support for “Red Flag” legislation earlier this year.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which bills itself as “Colorado’s only no-compromise gun rights organization,” has been teasing out some sort of announcement that would appear to be related to another recall attempt of a sitting lawmaker. It’s probably no coincidence that a recall petition was filed this afternoon against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora), who has been on the receiving end of mean words from RMGO head honcho Dudley Brown because of Sullivan’s strong support for a “red flag” bill that passed through the Colorado legislature this year.

For anyone who follows Colorado politics and the current state of right-wing recall fever, this is a predictable turn of events — particularly considering Brown’s considerable hubris and his need to raise money to support his militant organization. The irony is nevertheless impossible to ignore given the circumstances of the 2018 election.

Last year, Sullivan defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Cole Wist in HD-37 by an 8-point margin. In the run-up to the November election, Wist was attacked by RMGO over his support of “red flag” legislation. Brown has since claimed Wist as a political scalp, though Sullivan’s 8-point margin of victory makes that assertion fairly ridiculous. Here’s Brown in a new interview published today by David O. Williams of RealVail.com:

REAL VAIL: Red flag had Republican sponsorship last year from former state Rep. Cole Wist and even the National Rifle Association said it was open to some forms of the law. Why not RMGO?

Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

BROWN: Cole Wist, he lied to me last year when I called him and said, ‘I heard you were working on red flag. Oh no, I’m not.’ And then we filed a [Colorado Open Records Act request] and found out, yes, he was. And he had been lying to me all along. And so we went out and lit-dropped his district and mailed and we put a little bit of effort into ruining his life. And he paid the price. [Wist lost to primary red flag sponsor Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Democrat who lost his son in the Aurora theater shooting.] [Pols emphasis]

RV: Is that why not a single Republican backed red flag this year, out of fear of RMGO?

DB: I know a lot of RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] all bellyached about, ‘RMGO didn’t play on the team.’ We’re not owned by the Republican Party and when Republicans don’t play on the pro-gun team, we will piss in their ice bowl. We don’t care. [Pols emphasis]

Brown is now taking time away from pissing in the ice bowl of Republicans (whatever the hell that means) to go after Sullivan. Some Colorado Republicans are less than amused by RMGO’s recall quest:

To recap, RMGO is trying to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora Theater shootings, because of his support of “red flag” legislation that polling shows has the support of 80% of Colorado voters. This comes less than a week after the deadly shooting at a STEM school in Highlands Ranch, and a month after hundreds of schools in the Metro Denver area were locked down because of a threat from a Florida woman who flew to Denver and immediately bought a shotgun and ammunition at a gun store near Columbine High School.

No, this doesn’t make any sense. But somebody’s got to pay the bills for Dudley Brown.

Steve House Says the Quiet Part Out Loud on Recalls

Republicans gathered at the Pueblo Convention Center last Saturday for their annual “Derby Day Lincoln Dinner,” promoted as an “Evening with James O’Keefe of Project Veritas.” Inbetween dinner and O’Keefe hawking his latest book, Republicans in attendance heard a lot about recall elections in Colorado — perhaps a little too much.

One of the speakers at the Pueblo event was Steve House, the former GOP State Party Chair who is now the “CEO” of the State Party under new Republican Chairman Ken Buck. As you can hear in the audio clip below, House lays out a handful of priorities for the Colorado Republican Party that include supporting recall efforts across the state:

“We are going to support the recalls. We have to support the recalls, because, people…people are justifiably angry about what’s going on. And we need to, first of all, give a voice to that anger. And secondly, the process of identifying more voters for Trump, and for Cory Gardner, and for getting the State Senate back, starts as well with those recalls.” [Pols emphasis]

D’oh!

Recalls are how Republicans can start “getting the State Senate back.” This is the part about the recall efforts that House shouldn’t be discussing out loud: That Republicans see this as a way to subvert a regular election process that they are no longer capable of winning. 

Ken Buck and Steve House

Recall enthusiasts admitted last month that the rationale behind trying to oust Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) didn’t really have anything to do with her actual votes on issues; former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard told the Greeley Tribune that they would be working to recall Galindo regardless of how she voted in the legislature. As we first reported in this space last month, GOP consultants have been caught explaining how recalls should be viewed as a neat way to elect more Republicans because of the opportunity to catch the majority of voters napping.

Hearing these sentiments from House is a bit different, however, because House is the guy running the day-to-day operations of the Colorado Republican Party. While Buck has generally tried to avoid specifics on the subject of recalls, House doesn’t even pretend that this isn’t about sneaking Republican candidates in through the back door.

As we’ve discussed in this space before, recall elections in Colorado are — first and foremost — about grift for Republican consultants and “issue groups” looking to make some cash in a non-election year. Various Republican-aligned groups and individuals are spending as much time attacking each other as they are promoting their recall elections, because nobody wants to share their space at the fundraising spigot.

Once you get past the wallet-stuffing aspect of the recall elections, the strategerie is clear. Galindo, for example, was first elected in November and must stand for re-election in just 18 months. The State Republican Party could should be spending their time organizing for November 2020, but those darn General Elections are too hard!

Radio Host Misrepresents Holbert’s Stance on Recall Campaigns

There are some people out there saying recalls are a waste of time,” Republican State House Leader Patrick Neville told KNUS 710-AM host Chuck Bonniwell yesterday.

To which Bonniwell asked, “Who are the people who say you are wasting your time?”

Bonniwell then alleged that Colorado Politics reporter Marianne Goodland said that State Senate Republican Minority Leader Chris Holbert is against recall campaigns.

Bonniwell asked Neville yesterday if this was true.

“I don’t know if he’s against recalls or not,” replied Neville, who’s set up a website to support efforts to recall Democrats from office in Colorado.

It turns out, Goodland actually told Bonniwell on air that Holbert and Neville “differ a great deal on the issue of recalls,” not that Holbert opposed them per se.

For the record, Holbert told the Colorado Times Recorder that he is “neither for nor against” recalls.

“That’s up to people in local districts,” he said. “And I’m not for them or against them. I don’t have a position for or against.”

Second Largest Oil & Gas Producer in Colorado Not Participating in Recalls

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) should be removed from office for supporting new oil and gas regulations that will “devastate the oil and gas industry” and “kill oil and gas jobs,” say leaders of an effort to recall the newly elected representative.

Yet top producers in Weld County say the new law won’t have any substantial impact on their industry.

And when it comes to the Galindo recall specifically, the state’s second-largest producer says it’s not interested.

“Noble Energy does not participate in recall elections,” said Brian Miller, spokesperson for Noble Energy in an email. “Our contribution to Values First Colorado was related to the 2018 election cycle.”

Noble Energy is the second donor to Values First Colorado (VCF) to state publicly that its 2018 contribution was intended for the general election and not for any recall effort. Xcel Energy made the same statement to the Colorado Times Recorder back in March.

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association, an industry group, also stated that it doesn’t support the current recall campaigns.

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GOP Recall Leader Says Legislative Session Wasn’t So Bad After All

(Recalls talk, reality walks – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A leading Colorado Republican, who’s been saying for months that Democrats should be recalled from office for proposing extreme laws, now believes the “system” worked and the results aren’t so bad.

“No, it wasn’t a complete clean sweep,” Republican House Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock said this morning on KNUS 710-AM’s Peter Boyles Show. “I mean, there’s a lot of bad stuff that they did get that we don’t like. A lot of climate change stuff going through. The oil and gas stuff. But even that, we were able to get some amendments to make it not as bad.

Patrick Neville

“I think the system’s working. I think we had tremendous support from you, and your station that helped got the message out. It helped get the message out and caused quite a bit of chaos down at the Capitol to make sure that they were actually hearing the people’s voice. And that was effective.”

How does this view of the legislative session square with Neville’s comments over the last few months that, essentially, the Capitol dome was melting due to “unprecedented overreach” that warranted the ousting of any and all Democrats.

“This is unprecedented overreach. We need to do something,” Neville, the state house Republican leader, said on KHOW radio March 9. “If there is a grassroots effort that starts percolating up, then I am going to help them,” he said.

Neville formed a Recall Colorado website to help fund the recall efforts, listing six pieces of “overreaching legislation.”

Here’s a recap of his list:

o An oil-and-gas bill regulatory measure was amended to the point where the oil-and-gas industry has accepted it with trepidation, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and oil companies aren’t supporting the recall elections.

o A bipartisan sex-ed bill will likely become law, with amendments that address some of the most controversial elements, leading Republican Larry Crowder of Alamosa to say on Facebook that the legislation “was an overreach and was brought down to Earth.”

o The national popular vote bill, conditionally removing Colorado from the electoral college passed, as did a measure allowing courts to apply guardianship proceedings to immigrant minors.

o A proposal to make Colorado a sanctuary state died.

o A red-flag bill, allowing a judge to allow the confiscation of guns from dangerous people, passed with amendments.

That’s just the six bills listed on the Recall Colorado website. Many others moved in the GOP direction, including a now-dead proposal to save the lives of drug addicts.

So you can see why Neville said the system is working for him.

Now, will he still push ahead with recalls anyway?

Colorado Oil & Gas Association Isn’t Supporting Recall Campaigns

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley).

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and State Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley should be ousted from office for supporting legislation, now signed into law by Polis, that allows for more local control in regulating the oil-and-gas industry, according to the websites of multiple campaigns launched to recall the two Democrats.

But Colorado’s largest association of oil and gas companies doesn’t share that view.

“We are not currently supporting any recalls or funding any recalls, nor do I know of any oil and gas company that’s funding recalls,” Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), told the Colorado Times Recorder.

Haley then asked me if I could name an oil company that’s funding the recalls.

“I saw [Democratic presidential candidate] Elizabeth Warren do a video the other day saying [the recalls] are being funded by oil and gas,” he said. “I read a Greeley Tribune story saying it’s being funded by oil and gas. I have not seen any proof that it is.”

I mentioned the Greeley rancher and GOP donor named Steve Wells, who told the Greeley Tribune that Galindo’s vote on the oil and gas bill was the most important reason for his donation to the recall effort.

“I wouldn’t look at that as oil and gas,” Haley responded, referring to Wells as a mineral owner. “I think of oil and gas as Anadarko and Noble, mid-stream companies, production companies. I haven’t seen any of our members funding it.”

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“Horrifying” Sex Ed Bill Is Top Reason To Oust Polis, Says Recall Leader

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The President of the Official Polis Recall campaign thinks the “worst of it,” when it comes to the transgressions justifying Polis’ removal from office, is a proposed comprehensive sex ed law working its way through the Colorado legislature.

In a KNUS radio conversation replete with misinformation, Juli-Andra Fuentes, the group’s president, called Colorado’s proposed sex ed law “horrifying” because “you must include the experiences” of LGBTQ students, and “abstinence will not be taught”

And no “religious connotation” can be included, said Karen Murray, a co-chair of the Official Recall Polis site, who was also on the show.

Juli-Andra Fuentes

KNUS radio host Peter Boyles, amplifying misinformation promoted by right-wing anti-LGBT hate groups, chimed in with, “Why does the third-grade boy need to know how to put a put a prophylactic on a banana?”

Which prompted Fuentes to say, “Well, it’s not only that. They’re basically saying you cannot employ gender norms, and that by doing that, that’s shame-basing and stigmatizing.”

In fact, the sex ed bill allows schools to not offer sex ed at all, but if they do, the curriculum must be comprehensive, meaning both abstinence and LGBTQ-related information should be offered and religious perspectives can be included.

Boyles said on air that the “truth always knocks these suckers down,” but his own inflaming comment about the third grader, the condom, and the Banana is not true. The legislation states that the information in sex-ed classes should be age appropriate. Boyles said later in the interview that teaching sex ed to older LGBTQ kids would be “fine.”

Fuentes’ comments reflect her Recall Polis group’s website, which lists the sex-ed bill, described as “Radical Sexual Education Overhaul in Our Schools,” among the top reasons to recall the governor–which is widely seen as an extreme long shot to succeed.

Republican efforts to recall other Colorado lawmakers refer to the sex ed bill in a similar manner.

The Recall Colorado website backed by Colorado House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock lists the proposed law as a top reason that three legislators should be removed from office, describing the comprehensive sex-ed bill as “State Sexuality Indoctrination: A state indoctrination plan to undermine parental rights to educate their children about sexuality.”

So far, only one of three state lawmakers listed on the Recall Colorado website is facing an actual petition drive that, if successful, would trigger a recall vote.

That’s State Rep. Rochelle Galindo, a Democrat from Greeley.

A Greeley leader of the recall campaign called Galindo, who is gay, a “homosexual pervert,” and said he’d told Galindo to vote against “this homosexual sex education bill,” according to Colorado Politics.

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Republican Training Exposes the Naked Truth About Recalls

TUESDAY UPDATE: The internet is forever, folks–as Constellation Political is learning belatedly:

You’re welcome (see below).

—–

UPDATE: David O. Williams picks up the thread for RealVail.com:

Eagle County is indeed a very blue county these days, with Sheriff James van Beek the only elected member of the GOP currently serving.

Still, that clearly won’t thwart Republican efforts to regain power. But instead of moderating and trying to win over independents, the state GOP, which recently inducted Eagle County Republican Party Chairwoman Kaye Ferry into its hall of fame (despite that record of just one elected party member), is going the recall route…

…Extremism and recalls taking precedence over moderation and reaching out to the state’s growing electorate of registered independents. That’s the modern Colorado GOP approach. How’s that working?

—–

People are going to be traveling for Christmas. They’re not going to care. They’re not going to know that there is an election happening because they probably just turned a ballot back in a month earlier.”

We’ve demonstrated at length in this space about how Republican efforts to recall freshman Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley), Gov. Jared Polis, and other Democrats are as much about political grift as they are about legitimate policy gripes. For those who don’t stand to profit financially off of recall election “fundraising,” the real motivation for these recall efforts is about trying to win seats that Republicans can no longer defend in a regularly-scheduled election.

This may seem like a cynical view of Republican politics in Colorado, but it is not merely an opinion. Behind closed doors, Republican operatives are completely open about the real reason for trying to recall Democrats across the state.

Republicans first started talking openly about recall elections in November 2018 — just days after the General Election took place. The current legislative session was barely a week old when House Minority Leader Patrick Neville threatened recall elections in an interview with 9News.

The video below was posted to Facebook by someone who attended a recall election training seminar on April 11 in Buena Vista, Colorado. The “recall training” is conducted by Ben Engen of Constellation Political Consulting, a Republican political consulting firm with clients that include the Colorado Republican Party and the GOP-led Senate Majority Fund. This is the full version of a video that was later redacted by Engen over concerns about what might happen if regular folks happened to get a glimpse behind the curtain. The frank discussion that takes place is almost unbelievable.

 

You can watch the entire 90-minute training session at your leisure, but let’s start by jumping ahead to the 37:30 mark where Engen explains why recall elections are the best chance for Republicans to steal a few seats while most Colorado voters aren’t paying attention:

ENGEN: Recalls are uniquely powerful because they change the dynamic of the electorate. You know, people are generally aware of midterm elections. They’re very aware of Presidential elections – everyone shows up and votes in those. They aren’t as aware, you know, of a special election like a recall that just comes out of nowhere and blindsides them. [Pols emphasis] That was one of the things that really helped us in 2013. We aren’t going to be able to count on all of those advantages again, so we have to be extra cognizant of the timing and executing things in a way that will preserve that power.

Opening screenshot from recall campaign training conducted by Constellation Political Consulting

Engen references a pie chart on a screen at the front of the room showing the voter makeup in Senate District 11 (Sen. John Morse) during the 2013 recall effort:

So, what you’re looking at here is the difference between the electoral mix in a midterm and in a recall. So this is Senate District 11. In a typical midterm for a Republican, to win Senate District 11, they would have to get 65% of the Unaffiliateds to break their way. I mean, that’s huge. Republicans in the Metro area are never going to be able to do that. [Pols emphasis]

But in the recall, in 2013, a Republican would have only had to get 46.3% of the Unaffiliateds to break their way. That is supremely doable. That’s, like, right on the cusp of what Republicans do in the Metro areas without really trying. So, the fact that people weren’t really as aware of this election – there was a differential in the motivation [that] made a big difference…

This next section is particularly damning:

…So, it’s changing this makeup of the electorate that allows us to be successful in recalls, and for Republicans to carry seats that traditionally would not break our way. Or, in the case of, you know, these seats in 2013, we’ve NEVER been able to hold. So, as you’re moving through this, that’s the thing you want to keep in mind. What you’re really trying to achieve is this re-weighting of the electorate, and there are some more points here about timing to make that happen. [Pols emphasis]

A few minutes later, Engen walks the audience through forming official committees in order to start raising money for their recall efforts. Take a look at how Engen responds to a question about whether these committees can accept donations from businesses:

Yeah, so this just happened up in Weld – that Weld recall that just started. The whole reason they kicked off right now is because they had a business cut a $100,000 check to get them started.

“What you’re really trying to achieve is this re-weighting of the electorate.”

Engen is likely referencing Steve Wells, the businessman/rancher who donated $100,000 to one of the Galindo recall efforts. Engen then explains the importance of creating a website for your recall effort — or, rather, that the only reason to have a website is so that you can collect donations. Engen even recommends a specific platform for fundraising and wonders openly about the cost of other recall fundraising efforts (such as those directed by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute):

What you want to use is a platform called Anedot to raise your money. It’s just a wee bit more expensive than using something like PayPal, but it’s a lot less expensive than whatever the Polis [recall] guys are using for some reason. [Pols emphasis]

At the 44-minute mark, Engen gets a question about how to differentiate between different recall groups. His response is telling:

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I find it hard to differentiate between which ones are real and which ones are not. There’s a ‘Recall Polis’ and there’s a ‘Resist Polis.’

ENGEN: You and me both. I don’t know how to help you with that (room erupts in laughter)…

…You want to make sure that the committee that you’re giving to is the committee that’s approved for that [purpose]. There are already three separate committees up in House District 50 trying to do this recall. Only one of them has any money. Only one of them actually has petitions. But now these other guys are just sowing confusion. So, for the love of God, people, work together… [Pols emphasis]

…Try not to get yourself in that trap that they are [caught] up in Weld. Granted, they’re well-funded already, so they’ll probably still be successful, but it’s going to hurt them because people are giving money now to other organizations that aren’t going to do anything with it. You know…who knows, it’s just up in the wind. [Pols emphasis]

We’ve written previously about these red-on-red recall turf battles that Engen is referencing.

At the 45:50 mark, Engen gets a question about involvement from the State Republican Party:

This question has come up a lot, kind of amongst the Republicans, about how involved the Republican Party can be or should be. At the state level, the way that this used to work – the state party would get involved after petitions were accepted. So, like in 2013, that’s when the State Party really got involved. They contributed money and resources to help get that done.

But the reality is, there is an infinite number of candidates that can be recalled, and the Republican Party doesn’t have the resources to be going around handing out money to recall every single person under the sun. [Pols emphasis]  And it’s too tough to call which ones are going to take off and which ones aren’t, so generally the state and in most cases the county parties just avoid that whole thing. Even if they aren’t formally engaged in it, there’s a couple of things they can do to help you. Like, they’ll have access to the voter file and they can give you access to that. The state party does have a “walk app” that they can probably let you use.

As Engen next tells the audience, they are more likely to get help from the State GOP in Senate District 5, which is represented by Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan:

Now, if your petitions are successful and you do initiate a recall, the state party will almost always find money to support you – and especially if it’s against Kerry Donovan.

Engen goes on to emphasize the importance of finding an actual Republican candidate to run against a lawmaker targeted for recall, at which point another audience member says this:

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Our biggest challenge will be Eagle County. That’s our biggest problem with Kerry Donovan, because Eagle County is a really blue county, and that’s where the majority of the population is. So, if that county just decides to vote for her in the recall, then she might stay on.

It is indeed quite a challenge to initiate this here recall when you consider that voters in SD-5 actually want Donovan as their State Senator. Donovan was just re-elected to another 4-year term in November 2018 BY A 20-POINT MARGIN.

Before we get to the Q&A section at the end of the discussion, Engen returns to emphasize that the key to winning a recall election is basically to fool the majority of registered voters in a given area:

This is the most important consideration: Do not go out half-cocked. The reason we succeeded in 2013 is because those elections could not be conducted as mail [ballot] elections. So we can’t bank on that this go-round. But we can choose when the election happens. [Pols emphasis]

So you need to think this through and count backwards in time. Once you turn in your petitions, you have 60 days. Once you turn them in for validation, they have 15 days to approve them. After that, the Governor has 30 to 60 days to set the election. So you need to think about that: When is the worst time possible for Kerry Donovan to be dealing with this? Do you want to wait and start this in September so that the [legislative] session is back in and its harder for her to defend maybe? Do you want to try to do this during the holidays, when people are distracted and only your supporters are going to turn in their petitions. Like, start in August and the thing will have to happen in December.

People are going to be traveling for Christmas. They’re not going to care. They’re not going to know that there is an election happening because they probably just turned a ballot back in a month earlier. [Pols emphasis]

Think this through. Don’t run out of the room here and go pull petitions. Give this some thought to when you want the election to happen, because this (timing) is what ultimately determines your success. You can go out and get your petitions validated and approved, initiate the recall, and then get crushed so easily if you don’t have a favorable electoral mix. So, this is the thing, more than anything, that will determine your success – is choosing when you want to have the election and have it happen on your terms. [Pols emphasis]

Colorado voters keep electing Democrats in election after election, so Republicans are focusing their efforts on recall campaigns as a way to get around this pesky problem of Democracy. This isn’t our take on the situation — this is what Republicans are saying to each other. You can see it for yourself.

Click below for more references regarding the recall training and Constellation Political Consulting.

 

(more…)

Sign Up to Help Recall Democrats from Office! Win a Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle!

(The Las Vegas shooter would be green with envy! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A hard-line pro-gun group is kicking off its campaign to recall a Greeley lawmaker with another gun raffle, this one for the largest firearm it’s ever given away, a Barrett M82A1 magazine-fed Barrett .50 BMG semi-automatic rifle.

“Dear Fellow Patriot,” reads the RMGO website. “Make no mistake, gun owners in Colorado are in the biggest fight of our lives! We need all hands on deck! To help rally the troops, RMGO is giving away the largest gun we’ve ever done…”

The gun is a semi-automatic sniper rifle with massive power and maximum range of over a mile.

All you have to do is sign up here to be eligible to win the semi-automatic.

Folks who sign up will join Republican and RMGO leaders who are working together to remove State Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) from office.

They’re mad not only at her vote for a “red flag bill,” which allows law enforcement personnel to seek judicial permission to take guns from dangerous people, but also her support for comprehensive sex education, for more local control of oil-and-gas operations, and more.

“Her Red Flag vote was tip of iceberg,” tweeted RMGO, which is opposed to even the most modest gun safety measures, like criminal background checks prior to gun purchases, that are supported by many Republicans.

(more…)

Recallpalooza: Inside a Growing Red-on-Red Turf War

Making sense of the competing interests within the Republican coalition, and the relationships between those interests as they relate to recall campaigns now being organized, isn’t easy. That’s been a deliberate objective after extremely negative press about the early organizers of both the Galindo recall and the longshot campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis threw both of those efforts into PR chaos.

Today, both the Galindo and Polis recall campaigns insist the variously anti-Semitic and crudely anti-LGBT elements involved at the early stages have been purged. The Independence Institute led by longtime political stuntman Jon Caldara has taken over online fundraising for both campaigns with a sweetheart deal that will financially benefit his organization greatly, and the original Galindo recall committee organized by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville along with Greeley pastor Steven Grant, who declared his intention to recall his “homosexual pervert” representative, was replaced. The “new” committee–although the Nevilles claim they’re still the masterminds of the whole effort–is trying to rebrand the effort away from Pastor Grant.

As readers may already be aware, there has been a long-running “turf war” between two ideologically competing factions within the coalition of Republican-aligned interest groups and allied lawmakers who dominate conservative politics in Colorado. On one side, you have a coalition led by the Neville political machine, along with a core group of Republican lawmakers from El Paso and Weld Counties and hardcore gun rights activists led by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. In addition to a “no compromise” position on guns, this coalition is extremely conservative on LGBT rights, abortion, and other such social wedge issues–hence the willingness to work with distasteful figures like Pastor Grant. Mario Nicolais, a moderate Republican who wound up on the wrong side of RMGO’s intraparty wrath, writes in a column for the Colorado Sun informatively:

Galindo and her Democratic allies say oil and gas concerns are just a ruse. They argue the recall isn’t about how she votes, but who she is; specifically, because she is gay and Latina.

That would be a wild accusation except a second recall group, run by state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s brother, Joe, began their campaign with a news release touting support from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and Greeley Pastor Steven Grant.

Grant has used his pulpit to call Galindo a “homosexual pervert” who is “trying to insert her lifestyle into our lives.” From personal experience, I know RMGO front man Dudley Brown shares Grant’s beliefs; [Pols emphasis] when I ran for state Senate in 2014, Brown organized and funded a primary challenge against me.

As then-state Rep. Justin Everett explained at the time, I earned Brown’s ire by supporting civil unions in 2012 and 2013, or as Everett put it, “Dudley’s mad about the gay thing.” [Pols emphasis]

On the other side of this internal conflict is the Independence Institute, which serves as a front office for a number of conservative activists and one-off issue groups and is generally well-connected to the state’s large for-profit political consultancy firms and upper-echelon donor class. After the passage of the landmark 2013 gun safety laws that prompted the year’s recall elections, the Independence Institute proposed a compromise measure in 2015 to raise the state’s gun magazine limit to 30 rounds from the 15 round limit imposed in 2013–a measure that briefly entertained some bipartisan support. Unfortunately for Caldara, this compromise was bitterly denounced by RMGO and trounced by Republicans in the legislature, solidifying a rift that has never healed.

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Galindo Recall Organizers Admit It’s Not About Oil and Gas

Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley).

Another must-read story from the Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy this weekend digs into the central question around the nascent recall campaign against freshman Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley–why is this happening? Is it because Rep. Galindo is a “homosexual pervert” trying to indoctrinate the children like Pastor Steve Grant, one of the original organizers of the recall campaign says? Or it it the oil and gas local control bill now awaiting Gov. Jared Polis’ signature?

Treasurer Dave Young, who preceded Rep. Galindo in HD-50, doesn’t get it–unless the answer is as simple as it seems:

A Tribune review of Young’s votes from the 2013 legislative session reveal Young’s support for limits on high-capacity magazines and for background checks for gun sales between private parties. It revealed a “yes” vote on a controversial renewable energy mandate for rural electric cooperatives that served as another basis for the failed 51st State initiative that year.

And it revealed “yes” votes on bills that increased oil and gas spill reporting requirements, monitoring requirements, increased fines for oil and gas violations and sought to change the mission and makeup of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, including forcing the commission to prioritize health and safety…

“In many, many ways, the votes I’ve taken and the policy stances I’ve had are pretty much the same (as Galindo),” Young said. “The question is, ‘Why her and not me?’ What is it about her that they’re really attacking here? I think that raises some pretty serious questions.” [Pols emphasis]

What’s the difference, asks Treasurer Dave Young? And when you look at Young’s record in the House, including plenty of votes that should by the reasoning applied to Rep. Galindo have provoked the same degree of anger against Young, it just doesn’t make sense. This includes votes in 2013, the last year recall elections were attempted and (not coincidentally) the last time Democrats were in full control of the legislature. What’s the difference, other than Rep. Young is a straight white guy and Rep. Galindo is not?

The response to this very reasonable question, not from the previously identified haters like Pastor Grant but from the “mainstream” Weld County Republicans who are trying to convince you this is not a campaign of wedge issue haters, more or less confirms Young’s suspicion.

Former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard, who is leading the recall effort, in a phone interview Sunday went further when it comes to oil and gas — and the potential negative economic impact of SB 181 — being the reason for the recall.

“That’s our big thing; that’s our only thing,” Kjeldgaard said.

But then there’s this: When asked whether she would be working to recall Galindo if she had voted “no” on SB 181, Kjeldgaard said, “Absolutely.” [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. If the “negative impact” of Senate Bill 19-181 is the “only thing” driving the recall of Rep. Galindo, why would they recall her regardless of her vote on Senate Bill 19-181?

After blowing this extremely important question, Stacey Kjeldgaard threw out some empty platitudes about how Rep. Young “had connections to the community”–as if Galindo didn’t grow up in Greeley, or serve on the City Council before running for the legislature. But it doesn’t matter–by admitting that the “only thing” allegedly pertinent to recalling Rep. Galindo wouldn’t have affected their decision even if Galindo had voted against the bill, they’ve conceded the reality of the situation.

Just like Ken Buck comparing gay people to Nazis, sometimes you just have to take people at their word.

The Weld County Recall Is Not About Weld County

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley).

Despite what Weld County Republicans are saying, the recall effort against Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) isn’t because she voted for Colorado’s Red Flag law. It’s not about oil and gas development. Those issues are simply convenient excuses for a political party that refuses to accept the results of any election it doesn’t win.

That’s not to say that emotional issues like gun safety and local control of fracking operations won’t be exploited by Conservatives for political purposes. But to the people behind the recall, these controversial issues are tools for propaganda, not actual political objectives.

The actual objective is for white Conservative Republicans to regain power after losing everything in 2018.

It’s the political equivalent of a frivolous lawsuit; more obstructionism from a political party that is out of ideas.

Republicans know that they don’t have to win to nullify the 2018 election. Instead of working on legislation that could help Weld County and the rest of Colorado, Galindo and Colorado Democrats must now devote a significant portion of time to fighting the recall. Money and resources intended for a legitimate reelection campaign in 2020 will instead be depleted on this totally unnecessary political stunt. A community that needs to come together and solve serious problems related to growth and the local economy will instead will be even more torn apart.

The recall is funded largely by Colorado’s version of the Koch Brothers, Patrick and Joe Neville of Castle Rock [Pols note: Pat Neville lives in Castle Rock, but not Joe]. Not content with imposing their extreme agenda of failed public schools, inadequate infrastructure, uncontrolled growth, and other problems on the people of Douglas County, the Nevilles now want to export their Republican dystopia to the rest of the state, along with racism, homophobia, and the idea that only wealthy people deserve to be in politics.

Republicans love to claim they are protecting the Constitution even as they are subverting it. The recall isn’t about democracy or making sure that elective officials represent the people in their districts. Just the opposite. This is about preventing a representative from fighting for the voters who put her in office. These Republicans are telling 53% of Weld County voters that their vote doesn’t count.

A working class Latina Democrat like Rochelle Galindo, who carried 53% of the vote in Greeley, would have a hard time getting elected in affluent, white, ultra-conservative Castle Rock and surrounding Douglas County. Fine. She doesn’t live in Douglas County. She isn’t representing Castle Rock.

Galindo was elected by the citizens of Greeley to represent her home town. She cares about her constituents, listens to them, and works to make their lives better. That bothers Joe and Patrick Neville. The Nevilles want someone who will fight for them, regardless of her constitutional duty to represent the people of Greeley.

Greeley is a test case, a chance to develop a template to use in the future. If this recall is successful, there will be more. Republicans won’t be satisfied until they have nullified every election in this state. So much for democracy.

Let’s recognize recall elections for what they are: The last stand for the privilege and entitlement of rich, racist Conservatives who can’t win legitimate elections.

The “Very Fine People” Who Want To Recall Rochelle Galindo

THURSDAY UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio reports that petitions to recall Rep. Rochelle Galindo have been approved for circulation–but it’s unknown which organization the approved circulators are affiliated with.

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House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports on efforts getting underway to recall House District 50 Rep. Rochelle Galindo–efforts that loom deadly serious due to the amount of money at least hypothetically in play, and much like the nascent campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis shocking for the audacious prejudice on display by some of its organizers:

A local group working to recall Rep. Rochelle Galindo, D-Greeley, hasn’t yet finalized its paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, but it’s already sitting on $325,000 in pledged campaign donations from a Weld County landowner and oil and gas companies.

Motivated by the low threshold required to initiate a recall of a House member–in the case of Rep. Galindo in HD-50, a mere 5,696 valid signatures–Republican donors are ready to spend big on a do-over of the 2018 election. To put that in a perspective that should sober every Colorado Democrat, $325,000 breaks down to just over $57 for every required signature to qualify a recall for the ballot. Basically, these guys could buy every petition signer a nice dinner. With drinks.

Therefore ignoring the threat this represents would be foolhardy in the extreme.

The problem, as Silvy continues in yet another excellent deep dive story that should spike traffic for the Greeley newspaper of record, is that the people who are actually ready to organize such a recall–led by House Minority Patrick Neville–are, to put it mildly, problematic.

Colorado Senate Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s brother Joe Neville, who runs the political action committee Values First Colorado, publicly announced his involvement in a separate Galindo recall this past week. Neville is from Castle Rock, and is working to recall other legislators around the state and followed a similar recall path in 2013.

Aligned with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ Dudley Brown and controversial Greeley Pastor Steven Grant, Neville’s group, at this point, has no buy-in from the local group.

Part of the reasoning could be Grant himself, who in a March 17 sermon titled Reclaiming America Part 2 and published on the website of his Destiny Christian Center church, calls Galindo a “homosexual pervert,” and vows to do anything in his power to remove her from office. [Pols emphasis]

Reached by phone, Pastor Steven Grant of Destiny Christian Center Church confirmed those sentiments about Rep. Galindo, elaborating that “she’s trying to insert her lifestyle into our lives.” Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political site first reported on Grant’s sermon attacking Rep. Galindo late last week, but it was mostly inaccessible behind the Gazette’s paywall:

“My representative is a homosexual pervert, Rochelle Galindo, at the Colorado statehouse,” Grant says in the video.

“And I wrote her and said, ‘You campaigned as a moderate, and now you are legislating as an extremist, and I will do whatever it takes to get you removed from office.’ I just told her that, straight out. She needs to know before it happens.”

Grant says he told Galindo to vote against “this homosexual sex education bill,” legislation he maintains “literally removes words like ‘he’ and ‘she’ because it is offensive to those who are gender-fluid, whatever that is. I think they need their fluids changed.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s a fascinating predicament–on the one hand you’ve got rich Republicans with money to burn who would love to make trouble for Democrats after last year’s landslide election left them powerless. But the people actually working to put a recall on the ballot are themselves highly divisive figures, enough to toxify the entire effort in just a few short sentences (see above). Apparently that’s given some of the big donors pause–but with the Neville family publicly fronting the recalls before the Republican Party faithful last weekend at the party’s annual meeting, and Neville allied with the unapologetically bigoted Pastor Grant on the ground in Greeley, these are the ones bringing us all to the proverbial dance.

And as they say, you dance with the one who brought you.

Gardner Accuses Democrats of “Overreach” But Isn’t Asked About Recalls

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner accused state Democrats of “overreach” yesterday, telling KHOW radio host Dan Caplis that proposed legislation is “extremely, extremely alarming” and contrary to the “people’s will.”

Caplis did not ask Gardner if he supports recalling Democratic lawmakers, and a call to the senator’s office seeking an answer to that question wasn’t returned.

But Gardner clapped in approval Saturday, when U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), Colorado’s newly elected Republican Party leader, endorsed recalling Democrats. Gardner fully embraced Buck, telling the crowd, “I need [Ken Buck].”

“I think this is an overreach,” Gardner told Caplis yesterday. “I think [Democrats] are not going to be able to help themselves because they’ve got a base that is demanding further movement to the left. They’ve got a national election going on that is demanding further movement to the left. And I think what we’re going to see is going to get even worse.”

Gardner cited legislation, backed by Democrats, allowing for more local control of oil industry operations, a bill conditionally giving Colorado’s electoral presidential votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote, and a proposal to establish a program intended to save the lives of drug addicts. Gardner didn’t address a comprehensive sex ed bill and red-flag gun control legislation that GOP leaders spotlighted as a reason for recalls as well.

“Look, I think if you’re an unaffiliated voter in Colorado right now, you’re very concerned about what happened,” said Gardner on air. “This isn’t what you voted for!” Yesterday, Buck said he supports recalls in “rare circumstances,” telling Caplis a state lawmaker from Greeley is a “perfect example” of a lawmaker who should be recalled.

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