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Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Pueblo Democrat. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

A recall petition targeting Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia was approved Monday by state elections officials, meaning opponents of the Pueblo Democrat can being collecting signatures in an attempt to oust him from office.

Garcia is the latest — and most high profile — Democratic state lawmaker to be targeted by a recall campaign following the 2019 Colorado legislative session.

His colleagues, state Sens. Brittany Pettersen, of Lakewood, and Pete Lee, of Colorado Springs, are also facing recall campaigns. (Petitions also are circulating to have Gov. Jared Polis recalled, the fourth Democrat facing an active recall campaign.)

“This is yet another effort by extremists and sore losers to undermine the will of the voters in Pueblo,” said Matt McGovern, who co-directs Our Colorado Way of Life, a group defending Democrats against recall efforts. “Sen. Garcia won his last election with 73% of the vote. From his service in the Marine Corps to his tireless work to make health care more affordable to Puebloans, Sen. Garcia has dedicated his life to his community.”

McGovern called it a “sham that goes against the vast majority of Pueblo voters.” 

A request for comment from Garcia’s office was directed to Our Colorado Way of Life.

Garcia was expecting the recall campaign. Just after the lawmaking term ended in May, he spent about $20,000 on television ads defending his work.

Senate President Leroy Garcia, of Pueblo, speaks to reporters. (John Frank, The Colorado Sun)

Garcia’s district was the site of a successful recall in 2013. Then-state Sen. Angela Giron was ousted from her office over her support for legislation tightening regulations around guns. Some of the people from that effort are involved again this time around.

The three people leading the Garcia recall campaign are Victor Head, Susan Carr and Ernest Mascarenas.

The Garcia recall’s backers say they are upset with the Senate president over his support of legislation rewriting Colorado oil and gas regulations, saying it will hurt steel workers in Pueblo. They’re also mad about a bill he voted for signing the state onto the national popular vote compact and which they argue gives Colorado’s power in the presidential election away to more populous states.

They also say he is costing taxpayers too much money through the legal costs he has incurred from lawsuits.

One legal action challenged his decision to block a commenter on his official Facebook page and was settled for $25,000 at taxpayers’ expense. Another, which remains ongoing, was from Republicans over his use of a computer to read a 2,000 page bill.

The backers of the Garcia recall have 60 days — until Oct. 18 — to collect and submit to the state 13,506 valid signatures from his district to force a recall election.

The Colorado Democratic Party blasted the effort to oust Garcia, calling it “yet another attempt by Colorado Republicans to steal a Senate seat because they can’t win elections through legitimate means.”

The Colorado GOP reiterated its earlier statements that the recalls are grass-roots efforts.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....