Friday, August 26, 2022

Colorado: Petitions taken out against party-flipping State Senator

Petitions are being taken out against Colorado State Senator Kevin Priola, who switched from Republican to Democrat earlier this week, though petitioners are citing his support for a gas tax and safe injection sites for drug users.

Petitioners would need 18,291 signatures in 60 days.  

The Senate is safely Democratic (21-14) and Priola is term-limited. He barely won office in 2020, 50.84-49.16. Priola switched parties due to his opposition to Republican election denial and conspiracy theories. However, in true twist, the district that Priola was elected in (25) is more Democratic-leaning than the 13th district, which is where he is serving after redistricting. It is unclear where the recall would take place (and therefore who would sign) -- the old district lines or the new ones. 

Republicans leaned heavily into recalls after their disastrous showings in 2018, though to no effect (none got on the ballot). Colorado did have two recalls which led to the removal of two Democratic Senators in 2013 over gun control laws. 

Voters have used the recall against party flippers twice in the past (arguably three times). In 1995, California Assemblyman Paul Horcher was ousted over moving from Republican to Independent and voting for Willie Brown for Speaker. Assemblywoman Doris Allen also moved from the Republicans in the same year and had herself elected Speaker, which led to her ouster. While seen as a betrayal, I don't believe she actually left the party. And in 1981, Washington State Senator Peter Von Reichbauer switched from Democrat to Republican, which flipped control of the chamber. Von Reichbauer survived the recall vote. 

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