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Two days after Colorado Senator Kevin Priola left the Republican party to become a Democrat, Republicans on Wednesday launched a campaign to recall him.

Paperwork to do so was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to initiate the recall and formed a committee to fund the recall campaign. The registered agent for the action is a Colorado nonprofit called Advance Colorado Action.

The organization’s senior advisor Michael Fields said the action was necessary due to Priola’s legislative voting record, including his support for raising the gas tax to fund transportation and co-sponsoring a bill to establish so-called “safe injection” sites for intravenous drug users.

Priola is term-limited and in his final Senate term. On Monday he announced that he was leaving the Republican party because of its stance regarding overturning the 2020 presidential election, as well as its refusal to take action on climate change. His party shift increases the Democrats’ majority in the Colorado State Senate to 21-14

“Coloradans cannot afford for the leaders to give credence to election conspiracies and climate denialism,” Priola said in a written statement. “Simply put, we need Democrats in charge because our planet and our democracy depends on it.”

The Recall Process

Election officials now have three days to decide whether to approve or deny the petition, which doesn’t mention the party shift at all. If they approve it, then Priola has three days to respond.

If recall organizers decide to move ahead, state law gives them 60 days to gather 18,291 signatures. If the petition signatures are verified, then election officials must schedule a recall election within 60 days. If that happens, then the voters will be asked to decide whether to recall him, picking a replacement from among candidates who might petition their way onto the ballot. If a special election is approved, it looks as if it would be paid for by the voters of Colorado.

There’s a wrinkle in the process — which set of voters would be allowed to vote in this potential recall election, because of the new redistricting map. Democratic-leaning voters in Senate District 25 elected Priola in 2020. But according to the new state district maps, that decision might be made by voters who live in the new, Republican-leaning Senate District 13 which Priola represents after the redistricting. What could happen is up to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

The Colorado Republican Party issued a statement of support for the recall:

“Kevin Priola lied to voters and broke the trust of those who elected him,” said state GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown. “He does not represent the views of voters in SD-13. They deserve to choose whether or not they want to be represented by a Democrat who has a record of raising taxes on working families and supporting drug injection sites. The Colorado GOP fully stands with the citizens working to recall Kevin Priola.”

Republicans have mounted several recall attempts against Democratic politicians in recent years, including Governor Jared Polis, Secretary of State Jena Griswold, as well as several other legislators. All have failed.