BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) — After a longtime Colorado Republican lawmaker announced this week he was switching party affiliation to Democrat, an effort to unseat him is underway.

State Sen. Kevin Priola cited Republican denialism over the 2020 election results and human-caused impacts of climate change as two main reasons he’s crossing the aisle.

He earned praise from Democrats but immediate criticism from his former Republican colleagues for the move. Priola said the move will not change the way he votes on legislation, and he maintains his anti-abortion position and stances in favor of school choice and gun rights that run counter to the Democratic Party platform.

President of the conservative think tank Advance Colorado Institute and FOX31 political analyst Michael Fields announced a formal recall petition campaign Wednesday.

Colorado GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown released the following statement regarding the move:

“Kevin Priola lied to voters and broke the trust of those who elected him. 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.”

Kristi Burton Brown

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed a request for a recall petition format was submitted Wednesday.

Priola is not up for reelection this cycle, as his second term in the Senate is set to end on Jan. 8, 2025.

What is the recall process in Colorado?

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office shared this information about the timeline for a recall process:

  • “The Department now has 3 business days to get a cost estimate from the counties where the recall would take place;
  • After that, the Department would create the petition format with the recall statement (provided by the proponents) and cost estimate and then send to the proponents;
  • The proponents then have to submit a printer’s proof of the format. The Department then has 7 business days to approve or disapprove the format.
  • If we approve it, the Department will then go to Sen. Priola and offer him the ability to provide a rebuttal statement. He would have 3 business days to provide that to us;
  • If he provides a statement, then the Department will add it to the petition format, and re-send the updated format to the recall proponents. They will then have to re-submit a new printer’s proof and the Department would have 7 business days to approve or disapprove the printer’s proof for circulation.
  • If Sen. Priola does not provide a rebuttal statement, then the original printer’s proof that was provided is approved for circulation.
  • Once the Department approves the format for circulation, then that begins the 60-day clock for the proponents to gather their signatures.

“The signature threshold to place a recall question on the ballot for a state elected official is 25% of the total votes cast at the last preceding general election for all the candidates who sought the office that the targeted incumbent currently occupies. {CRS § 1-12-104(1)}

“Any recall election would be a special election and not on the General Election ballot.

“The Department of State is currently working with the Attorney General’s Office to determine recall regulations given re-apportionment.”