Colorado governor recall effort does not make ballot

A recall effort targeting Colorado Gov. Jared Polis did not make the ballot after recall supporters announced September 6 that they had not collected the required number of signatures. The group leading the effort—Dismiss Polis—needed to submit 631,266 signatures for the recall election to occur. They collected about 300,000, according to spokesperson Karen Kataline.

According to the petition, Dismiss Polis targeted Polis for recall because he signed legislation related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education during the 2019 legislative session.

  • The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove firearms from people who were deemed a threat to themselves or others. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry. It also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The national popular vote bill was designed to award Colorado’s electoral college votes in the presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote. Polis signed this bill in March 2019.
  • The sex education bill was designed to update the state’s curriculum for school districts that offer that education. The bill added instruction on such things as sexual orientation, consent, STDs, and pregnancy prevention. Polis signed this bill in May 2019.

After the recall effort ended, Polis stated: “After all that fuss, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t turn in a single signature on the recall. I hope the remaining misguided efforts against others see the same results as Tom Sullivan’s did before. Recalls should not be used for partisan gamesmanship.”

From 2003 to 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 17 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921. Four gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2019.

Three Colorado state senators—Leroy Garcia (D), Brittany Pettersen (D), and Pete Lee (D)—are also facing official recall campaigns in 2019. Two state representatives—Rochelle Galindo (D) and Tom Sullivan (D)—were previously targeted for recall earlier this year. The recall targeting Galindo ended after she resigned in May 2019; while the recall targeting Sullivan ended in June 2019 after recall supporters abandoned the effort.

Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House 41-24 and the state Senate 19-16. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019 after winning the 2018 election with 53.4% of the vote.

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