DENVER — Proponents of an effort to recall state Sen. Kevin Priola, who switched from the Republican to the Democratic party last month, will have until Election Day on Nov. 8 to gather 18,291 valid signatures from Senate District 13 for the effort to proceed.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Friday it had approved the petition format for the recall effort, and the conservative group behind the recall effort said it had started gathering signatures.
Michael Fields, the Advance Colorado Action senior advisor who is behind the recall effort, claimed an issue committee behind the recall has opened a Greeley office and raised $130,000.
A special recall election, if the proponents are able to gather enough signatures by the deadline, would cost just under $200,000, the Secretary of State’s Office estimates.
Though proponents need to gather all of the signatures from the new post-redistricting Senate District 13, the signature threshold was established based off voter counts from the 2020 election in Priola’s current Senate District 25.
Fields and the two official proponents of the recall effort, Louisa Andersen and Jeff Sloan, who both previously ran unsuccessfully for office, say they believe Priola is out of touch with voters in the new district, which leans more Republican than his previous district.
“We look forward to getting the necessary signatures to let voters decide who they want to represent them for the next two years,” Fields said in a statement.
Priola switched in late August from the Republican to the Democratic party, saying at the time: “I cannot continue to be a 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, of Henderson, has consistently voted for bills from both parties during his 13 years in the state House and Senate. He said that he would now “cast my votes with a D next to my name instead of an R.”
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.
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.
Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, previously said he felt the recall process was being misused.
“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,” he said in a statement on Aug. 29.