DENVER — A theoretical recall election of state Sen. Kevin Priola, who switched from the Republican to the Democratic party last week, would happen in his new Senate district, which leans more Republican than his current district, the Secretary of State’s Office said Monday.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said a special election would cost an estimated $199,089 and that proponents would need to gather at least 18,291 valid signatures from the new Senate District 13 for the special recall election to proceed.
The Secretary of State’s office said the signature threshold is based off voter counts from Priola’s current Senate District 25 from the 2020 election but determined the recall election – if it happens – would have to take place in the new district.
The official petition has yet to be approved for circulation, but the office said it is working with the proponents, Advance Colorado Action and senior adviser Michael Fields whose group is leading the effort, and Louisa Andersen and Jeff Sloan – the official proponents who both previously unsuccessfully ran for office.
The two latter proponents each live in the new Senate District 13. Once the petition format is approved for circulation, the proponents will have 60 days to gather the needed signatures, or the effort will not move forward.
There were still questions last week as to which district – the new or old one – the petition would proceed with, since redistricting takes effect for the coming November elections.
Priola won his 2020 election by 1,227 votes over Democrat Paula Dickerson and his 2016 election by 2,396 votes in Senate District 25.
But Senate District 13, which he would represent come January because he is not up for re-election, leans more favorably to Republicans than his old district. According to the Colorado Independent Redistrict Commission, Senate District 13 leans about 3.7% toward Republicans based on an average of eight statewide elections from 2016 through 2020.
Proponents of the effort to recall Priola are unhappy with his party switch and his votes alongside Democrats in the legislature over the past several years, along with the fact that political committees and groups that favor Republicans have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in working toward electing him to office as a Republican.
Priola said that Republicans’ lack of any true action to stop climate change was one of the reasons he decided to switch parties. But he also said in his letter he would stick to his current manner of voting on legislation: “I just simply will now cast my votes with a D next to my name instead of an R.”
"Recalls in Colorado are expensive, but important tools meant to allow voters to remove politicians guilty of serious offenses like corruption or malfeasance, not to get revenge on lawmakers they disagree with,” Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said in response to the recall effort last week.
Democrats currently hold 21 of 35 Senate seats after Priola’s switch. Seventeen of the 35 seats, not including Priola’s, are up for election in November, and Republicans would need to win 12 of them in order to take back hold of the Senate.