Colorado Sen. Kevin Priola unlikely to be recalled given Republican losses

A renewed attempt to recall party-switching state Sen. Kevin Priola is less likely to unfold early next year in the wake of Colorado Republicans’ electoral losses last week, an organizer said Thursday.

Officials behind the first failed attempt to recall Priola have yet to make a final decision on whether to resurrect the effort next year, said Michael Fields, of the conservative group Advance Colorado. But the expense of another campaign and the scale of the Democrats’ control of the Senate — with or without Priola — makes a second try “more unlikely” going forward, he said.

Priola, a Henderson lawmaker, was the target of a recall campaign shortly after he announced in August that he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. At the time, officials from both parties believed control of the state Senate could swing Republican, and Priola’s switch complicated that path and provided a lifeline to Democrats wary of what appeared to be a looming red-wave election.

But a Denver judge stopped the recall in October, ruling that unique circumstances posed by redistricting meant Priola couldn’t be recalled until after Jan. 9, when the next legislative session began. Recall supporters, who Fields said had gathered roughly 20,000 signatures and already spent “probably $200,000,” appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court. The high court rejected the appeal, and organizers were told they would need to begin gathering signatures all over again in January.

Priola did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Still, despite the court rulings, Republican Party officials expected to recall Priola in January. They hoped that electoral gains on election day plus Priola’s recall would flip control of the senate to Republicans in 2023. State Rep. Colin Larson told The Denver Post in early November that Priola being replaced was all but a certainty.

But Election Day saw Republicans lose seats in the Senate, and Priola suddenly became a moot point in Republicans’ lost plans for controlling the chamber.

Fields again stressed that another recall could be launched but that it was less likely given the expense and lack of decisive impact, and he defended past criticisms of Priola’s voting record as still valid.

“This is a very expensive thing,” Fields said. “If this was free, then it would be a no-brainer.”

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