The organizers of recall efforts targeting Colorado state Sen. Pete Lee (D) and state Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D) notified the secretary of state’s office on September 10 that they would not be turning in signatures for either recall effort. Recall organizers had until September 10 to turn 11,304 signatures for the Lee recall and until September 16 to turn in 18,376 signatures for the Pettersen recall.
Both Sen. Lee and Sen. Pettersen were targeted for recall because of their support of the same four bills during the 2019 legislative session. The legislation was related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education.
- The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove firearms from people who were deemed a threat to themselves or others. Gov. Jared Polis (D) 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.
The state Senate’s president, Leroy Garcia (D), is also facing an official recall due to similar legislation. The signatures for that recall are due on October 18.
Gov. Polis (D), Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D), and Rep. Tom Sullivan (D) all faced recall campaigns in 2019 due to the same legislation as Lee and Pettersen, but none of the three recall efforts reached the ballot. The Polis recall ended on September 6 after supporters failed to submit the required number of signatures. The recall targeting Galindo ended after she resigned in May 2019. The recall targeting Sullivan ended in June 2019 after recall supporters abandoned the effort.
Since 2011, 85 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 58 did not go to a vote, and nine are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.