DENVER — A Colorado recall campaign is targeting a lawmaker who left the GOP and joined the Democratic Party this week, saying he was disgusted with Republicans’ widespread embrace of 2020 election conspiracies.
Sen. Kevin Priola, who represents a suburban Denver district, and Colorado Democrats vowed Thursday to fight any recall drive as they look to keep their senate majority in November’s election.
The Secretary of State’s Office confirmed late Wednesday that it received the request and said, once approved, petitioners will have 60 days to gather voter signatures in Priola’s district.
Michael Fields, who is leading the recall committee and is president of the conservative group Advance Colorado Institute, said Priola has become more liberal, voting for bills that raise gas and property taxes.
“There are a lot of people that voted for him knowing that he would be a Republican member and Republicans would have a chance at a majority,” Fields said.
Last year’s redistricting will place Priola in a new, more conservative district in January. The Secretary of State’s office has yet to say whether a recall would be held in Priola‘s current or new district.
“The most likely thing is that signatures will have to be gathered in his new district,” said Fields, who is confident that the petition will garner the required 25% of votes cast in the past election to force a special election.
Priola did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Colorado Republican Party voiced its support for the recall effort on Wednesday. “Kevin Priola lied to voters and broke the trust of those who elected him,” state GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said in a statement.
Priola, who represents Adams County, said in a letter announcing his party change Monday that he was horrified by the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and had waited in vain for his party to repudiate it as well as former President Donald Trump.
“It never came,” Priola said. “To my dismay, brave and honorable Republicans like Mike Pence, Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney and Adam Kinzinger have fought to defend the Constitution and the rule of law only to be met with ridicule and threats.”
“I cannot continue to be part of a political party that is okay with a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election and continues to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen,” Priola said.
Numerous assertions that the 2020 presidential election was stolen have been proven false.
Priola is in his second term as a state senator and is not up for reelection in November.
• Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Bedayn on Twitter.
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