DENVER (AP) — A judge has postponed a Republican-backed recall campaign against Kevin Priola, a Colorado state senator who recently switched parties to Democrat, ruling the effort should be conducted after Priola is sworn in in January to represent a new district created by redistricting.
The ruling temporarily enhances Democrats’ prospects of retaining a majority in the state Senate, where they hold a 21-14 advantage, after the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The party holds a larger majority in the House as well as all top statewide offices, including the governorship.
Recall leaders vowed Tuesday to appeal the ruling, which would likely force them to discard more than 15,000 voter signatures they say they’ve collected to force a recall in the new suburban Denver district that’s more favorable to Republicans.
Signatures must wait until January
Denver District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses ruled Monday that recall supporters must wait until Jan. 9, when Colorado’s 2023 Legislature convenes and Priola is sworn in, to collect signatures in the district, The Colorado Sun reports.
Moses ruled the secretary of state’s office erred in approving the recall campaign beforehand. Petitioners had until Nov. 8 to collect enough signatures to force an eventual recall vote, possibly in January.
Priola infuriated Republicans when he announced his party switch in August, saying he was disgusted by the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and what he called his party’s refusal to repudiate assertions that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Those assertions have repeatedly been proven false.
Priola also rebuked what he called the GOP’s refusal to take climate change seriously.
Recall group vows to appeal ruling
A Democrat-backed committee created to fight the recall sued to challenge the secretary of state’s ruling.
The secretary of state’s office said Tuesday it was reviewing Moses’ ruling.
But Michael Fields, who heads the recall committee and is president of the conservative group Advance Colorado Institute, vowed to appeal and said the current effort will continue to collect at least 18,000 valid signatures needed to force a recall.
“Coloradans have a constitutional right to recall our elected officials,” Fields said in a statement.
Senate President Steve Fenberg said that allowing the recall campaign to continue “would have created a cascade of ridiculous recall efforts every redistricting cycle.”
Priola is in his second term as a state senator and is not up for reelection in November. The campaign needs signatures equal to at least 25% of the number of votes cast in the district in the last election to force a vote.