Even after historic wins, recall organizers pick fight with Colorado GOP

Politics

The office of Pueblo Freedom and Rights, the group organized by three plumbers who started the successful recall effort against Sen. Angela Giron.

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DENVER — Often times, in sports and politics, winning is a simple cure for even the most dysfunctional of locker rooms and campaign operations.

But nearly two weeks after two historic elections that resulted in two Democratic state lawmakers being recalled from office, the internecine battles between the grassroots organizers behind the recalls and the Colorado Republican Party are intensifying.

On Monday morning, the organizers who started petition drives against the lawmakers in Colorado Springs and Pueblo will hold a press conference at the state Capitol here to “share evidence of a GOP that attempted to stop the recalls.”

The organizers, however, already undercut the interest in that press conference by sharing the same “evidence” with Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post, whose story, already posted Monday, details the early interactions between them and GOP Chairman Ryan Call and highlights the growing animosity between them.

While Call and other more established political activists were initially skeptical of the recall efforts, the state GOP did help support the campaigns once the petition signatures were certified.

In fact, the Colorado GOP spent $82,656 on the recall efforts, donating $41,000 — the maximum allowed — to the campaigns of Bernie Herpin and George Rivera, the Republicans who will replace Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, respectively.

The party also sent three full-time staffers to assist both campaigns, paid for direct mail pieces, the installation of a phone bank system, robocalls and a database of voter information to aid volunteers going door-to-door.

It’s still true that the recalls were driven by the passion, sweat equity and, yes, even the ingenuity of political newcomers, as I wrote the day after the elections.

But the party, however skeptical at first, got on board and played an important role as well.

It’s not a positive sign for Colorado conservatives that the GOP’s biggest election night victories in a decade — frankly, its only meaningful victories in that span — are dividing them further.

It’s also worth nothing that Dudley Brown, the executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and a long-time thorn in the side of the GOP establishment, actually agreed with Call that the recalls were politically risky; once the petitions were certified, Brown, too, supported the campaigns with volunteers and TV and radio advertising.

But the activists gathering at the Capitol Monday aren’t taking aim at him.

In 2014, Republicans have an opportunity to seriously challenge a Democratic governor who, until recently, was thought to be a lock for reelection.

They’d be wise to remember an old axiom from UCLA basketball coach John Wooden: “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”

Colorado Democrats, with a decade of wins under their belt, have proven that quote to be true.

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