The effort to mount a recall against Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has entered a new phase, with several groups now coalescing around one petition effort.
Polis won the governor’s race last November by a 10.6-percentage-point margin over Republican Walker Stapleton.
After less than six months in office, Polis has drawn ire from conservatives on a variety of issues, including support for measures committing Colorado to a national popular vote for president, allowing guns to be seized from people deemed a threat and reform of oil and gas regulations.
A new “issue committee,” which filed paperwork with Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office on Monday, is known as Dismiss Polis, with a stated mission “to dismiss Jared Polis as governor of Colorado through the recall process.”
An issue committee under Colorado election rules is a group established to support or oppose a ballot question and has either accepted contributions or printed up petitions.
Chris Morrissey of Fort Collins, who’s connected to the Resist Polis PAC, says his group, which is now affiliated with Dismiss Polis, has lined up at least two leaders in every county in the state for a petition drive that could start as early as July 8.
By law, a recall effort against Polis can’t begin until he has been in office for six months, which happens July 8.
Once a recall petition is accepted by state officials as legal, petitioners would have 60 days to gather 631,266 valid signatures. No particular reason for a recall is required under Colorado law, but the petition language must not be false or defamatory.
“The benefit to Colorado is to join the coalition and support the recall,” said Alan Gentz of Sterling, who leads Dismiss Polis and whose wife is its registered agent.
The county-by-county work on the recall effort was done by Resist Polis PAC, which has its own independent expenditure committee, and an issue committee called Recall Et ALL.
Both committees’ leaders will join up with Dismiss Polis to work on a single petition that will be filed with Griswold’s office in the coming weeks, said attorney Korry Lewis.
Lewis (who is the daughter of state Rep. Kimmi Lewis, R-Kim, said that she has spent the last several months getting boots on the ground for the recall effort in every county. That means recruiting “capable leaders” committed to reaching petition signature quotas for each county.
The leadership of Resist Polis PAC, which is headed by Tom Good of Denver, has agreed to circulate a petition that will be filed by the Dismiss Polis group, Lewis said.
“It doesn’t make sense for Resist Polis PAC and Dismiss to file separate petitions, so we’re looking forward to partnering with Dismiss Polis,” Morrissey said.
Morrissey and Lewis said they’re still hoping to bring into the coalition the other Polis recall groups. One is the “Official Recall Governor Jared Polis” group, led by Juli Andra Fuentes; the other is Colorado Against Polis, which was recently filed by Fuentes’ son, Robert Rojas, in an effort to stymie the work of the other recall groups, according to Morrissey and Lewis.
There’s been a lot of friction between the recall groups. “Why are we not working together?” Morrissey asked.
He and Lewis said they tried to work with the leaders of the “Official” recall group but were told if they didn’t do things the way Fuentes and her associates wanted, they weren’t welcome.
“There’s no reason to have a beef with one another if everyone can get after Polis,” Morrissey said.
“It’s a very sad state of affairs,” Lewis said of the disputes between the two groups.
“We’ve got to get the public behind Dismiss Polis,” Lewis added. She believes people are waiting for someone to step out of the various recall efforts and offer a logical solution.
Once the petition is filed and approved, she said she hopes the majority of those who support a recall will get behind it. “A second petition will sabotage the effort.”
Morrissey acknowledges that gathering 631,266 valid signatures will be a big job. He said their group is shooting for 900,000 signatures to give them a buffer.
They don’t intend to use paid petition circulators, at least for now, Morrissey said.
“I know it’s a huge task, but I feel it will happen,” Morrissey said. “It will take effort, but people are upset [with Polis]” with the governor.
Getting enough signatures will be a matter of having a strong ground game, he said. He attributed much of that ground game to the advance work Lewis has done to build “a very elaborate team of people,” including finding two leaders in every county.
As to the cost of getting the petition on the ballot, Morrissey said he’s heard figures ranging from $3.5 million to $40 million. But he believes with a grass-roots effort they could keep the costs down to as low as $1.5 million, most of which will be spent on printing petition packets.