The Spot: What are Republicans thinking in trying to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan?

So far this year, Democrats have provided most of the head-scratching, what-in-the-world-are-they-thinking news. See former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran’s decision to challenge U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette instead of running to unseat Sen. Cory Gardner, and state Senate Democratic leadership keeping the lights on during a bomb cyclone.

Truly puzzling political strategy.

Now it’s the Republicans’ turn to leave Colorado’s political class with mouth agape.

We all knew recalls were coming. Since almost the start of the legislative session, Republicans have been threatening to pull petitions on lawmakers they felt overstepped their mandate.

Democrats would object to any recall, pointing out that many of the state lawmakers won their seats by wide margins and that they are doing what the voters sent them to do. However, on an objective level, the attempted recall of Rochelle Galindo made some sense. (See below for more on her weekend resignation amid unspecified criminal allegations against her.) She took a vote to reform the oil and gas sector while representing one of the state’s most oil-rich countries.

But the nascent attempt to recall of state Rep. Tom Sullivan, announced this week, even has Republicans shaking their head in disbelief.

Sullivan, who lost his son in the Aurora theater shooting, ran on a gun control platform. The Democrat beat an incumbent — something almost unheard of in modern politics — winning the Republican-leaning suburban district 54 percent to 45 percent. Sullivan then went on to sponsor gun control legislation that nearly every Democrat running in a highly contested race, including then-gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis, supported.

Yet, according to the Republicans behind the recall, Sullivan duped voters.

When I pushed Kristi Brown — the state GOP’s vice chair and leader of the charge to recall Sullivan — on this logic, she acknowledged Sullivan’s track record as a gun control activist. But she added that the legislation he sponsored went further than a previous version of the bill. She added that his votes on sex ed and oil and gas reform were part of the “overreach.”

Despite the high-profile legislative recalls of 2013 and the Jefferson County school board recall of 2015, such elections historically are difficult to win. One reason those efforts were successful was because each had a specific and concise message as to why those elected officials had to go.

The Republican base may be larger in Sullivan’s district and the unaffiliated voters who gave Democrats their victories in 2018 aren’t known for participating in recalls. Still, recall supporters will be in an awkward position asking voters to kick out a freshman lawmaker who lost his son to gun violence — and right after a neighboring community just suffered another school shooting.


Welcome to The Spot, The Denver Post’s weekly political newsletter. I’m Nic Garcia, a political reporter at The Post. Keep the conversation going by joining our Facebook group today! Forward this newsletter to your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe. And please support the journalism that matters to you and become a Denver Post subscriber here. Send tips, comments and questions to ngarcia@denverpost.com.


Countdown

19 days until Denver’s runoff election; 42 days until the first Democratic presidential primary debate; 238 days until the General Assembly returns (too soon?)

Your political digest

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  • Idaho repealed its entire regulatory code. Now what? FEE
  • Is President Donald Trump the end of the Reagan era or the start of something new? NY Times

Capitol diary

Will Polis veto anything?

Gov. Jared Polis has been on a bit of a bill-signing kick lately, signing a dozen or more bills each day since the end of the General Assembly. We’ve highlighted a few — college financial aid for immigrants here without documentation and a college fund for every newborn in the state.

While Polis has hinted he hasn’t been a fan of every bill he’s signed, he’s yet to issue a veto. A spokesperson for his office said earlier this week none are on the horizon but that the office is still reviewing several bills.

Why you haven’t heard more about Galindo investigation

There are a lot of rumors on exactly what led to Rochelle Galindo resigning her seat. However, so far, police have not released the initial complaint or their findings, and no charges have been filed.

The Greeley Police Department told The Denver Post on Wednesday they were close to releasing their report earlier this week when they received new information, so details aren’t expected for several more days. The Post has reached out to several key individuals believed to be associated with the report, but no one has agreed to go on the record.

On the political side of the situation, Weld County Democrats have finalized their timeline to fill Galindo’s seat. The party sent these details:

  • Individuals who want to be considered for the seat must file paperwork with the party by May 28.
  • Candidates must be 25 years old, a U.S. citizen, and have been a registered Democrat in the district for the last 12 months.
  • The vacancy committee will meet June 2 to decide Galindo’s replacement.

Look which conservatives are coming to town

The 10th annual Western Conservative Summit is scheduled for July 12 and 13 in downtown Denver. And the Centennial Institute, the policy think tank at the Colorado Christian University, announced this week some of the speakers. Per an email from the organization’s leader, confirmed speakers include pro-life leader Abby Johnson, pastor Andrew Brunson, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, former independent counsel Ken Starr, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, Americans For Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist and author David Horowitz.

Colorado Fiscal Institute celebrates legislative victories, looks ahead

Esther Turcios, left, and Kathy White of the Colorado Fiscal Institute at their end of session party.

Progressive fiscal nerds gathered Wednesday evening to celebrate the end of the legislative session at Vine Street Pub. The event was hosted by the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a progressive think tank that advocates for economic equity and tax reform. Revelers toasted legislative victories, including $6 million for a campaign to encourage Coloradans to take the census and a new requirement that certain bills are studied for demographic impact.

The organization also acknowledged a setback on a proposal to establish a paid family leave insurance fund. While the proposal is still going forward, it’s not moving as quickly as supporters had hoped.

Looking even further ahead, the nonprofit is working on more affordable housing policy, a 2020 tax reform ballot proposal and a huge research project looking at various metrics to understand how Colorado has changed since 1960.

Colorado Petroleum Council names Lynn Granger executive director

Lynn Granger will lead one of the state’s leading oil and gas associations after being named executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council. Granger most recently served as the chief operating officer at Colorado Concern, a pro-business political association. Granger had this to say in a statement released this morning:

“This is a pivotal time for energy policy, both in Colorado and across the nation. The Colorado Petroleum Council has quickly established its leadership in an industry that supports 232,900 jobs in Colorado. I am honored to have the opportunity to bring industry, community, and government leaders together to ensure that Colorado continues to lead the nation in balancing safe, responsible development with strong environmental stewardship.”

Mile High Politics

Clerk front-runner receives a boost

Denver City Councilman Paul López received a big boost Thursday in what is looking to be a fiercely fought runoff election for clerk and recorder — the endorsement of the third-place finisher.

In the May 7 election, López, who’s term-limited on the council, led in the tight three-way race, receiving nearly 37 percent of the vote. Public policy attorney Peg Perl received 33 percent, making the June 4 runoff, while preservation consultant Sarah O. McCarthy came in third at 30 percent.

In a statement Thursday, McCarthy threw her support to López, saying he has the experience and knowledge that matters to voters. — Jon Murray

Colorado in Washington

Searching for Space Command

The Air Force this week confirmed much of what we know about its Colorado-focused search for a Space Command headquarters, while also dropping a few new details.

What we already knew is that six bases are being considered, including three in the Colorado Springs area and Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. The other two are in California and Alabama.

What we learned is that a decision will be made over the summer. The Air Force also revealed its process for choosing, which includes site surveys to determine a base’s “ability to meet mission requirements, capacity, environmental impact and cost criteria,” it said in a press release.

Sen. Cory Gardner has advocated on behalf of Colorado Springs. Reps. Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter have pushed for the Aurora location. Colorado’s odds are good, but Gardner warned a Colorado Springs Chamber crowd last month about Alabama’s chances.

“I would never underestimate Richard Shelby,” he said of that state’s senior senator. — Justin Wingerter

The Stump

Hickenlooper says ignoring Fox News isn’t the answer

Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren made waves this week when she said she would not participate in a televised town hall on Fox News, the latest stomping grounds for the field of candidates that won’t stop growing.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper responded on Twitter, saying it was important for politicians to not shut out audiences based on political ideology, arguing it adds to the “crisis of division” in this country. He then later appeared on Fox Business, discussing his ideas for fixing American’s capitalistic system.

And just because the internet is a thing

A Twitter user decided to paint mustaches on all the male presidential candidates. Here’s a tweet featuring Colorado’s two 2020 nominees, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper retweeted the image saying the man in the picture was his evil twin, Burt.

 

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