Backers of the effort to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced on Friday morning that they did not collect enough signatures to force a special election on whether to boot the Democrat before his first year in office ends.
Friday was the end of a 60-day period during which supporters of the recall needed to collect 631,266 valid signatures — or more than 10,521 a day — to make the special election happen. No campaign has ever collected that many signatures in Colorado.
Karen Kataline, a spokeswoman for the recall effort, said the group collected more than 300,000 signatures, but that number was not independently verifiable.
Dismiss Polis organizers said from the start that completing the task was improbable, but confirmed that they fell short in a news conference at the Colorado Capitol. Kataline, standing in front of plastic boxes filled with signature petitions stacked on the West steps of the statehouse, said that the effort was still historic.
“This huge outpouring of citizen activism is a milestone in Colorado’s proud history of self-government,” Kataline said. “It’s a sad milestone in that the reckless overreach of Gov. Polis and the Democrats in the Colorado legislature has made it necessary. It’s an encouraging milestone in that we the people have spoken with a roar.”
Polis, in a written statement responding to Friday’s news, called the recall effort a “sideshow” and touted his accomplishments in his first nine months in office.
“After all that fuss, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t turn in a single signature on the recall,” the statement said. “I hope the remaining misguided efforts against others see the same results as Tom Sullivan’s did before. Recalls should not be used for partisan gamesmanship. “
Sullivan, a state Democratic state representative from Centennial, was the target of a recall effort that was abandoned in June.
On Friday afternoon, Polis reelection campaign also sent out an email fundraising off of the failed recall attempt, urging supporters to chip in “to make sure we have the resources to fight back immediately against another recall attempt.”
Organizers of the Polis recall said they will not turn in the signatures that they did collect. If they did, the people who signed would have been prohibited from signing any other petition to recall Polis during his term in office. The maneuver also prevents the public from knowing who signed the petition.
The campaign to remove the governor was hit with a campaign-finance complaint over it’s “Polis Penny” strategy, which was deployed to keep donor names, addresses, occupations and employers out of the public eye. Donations of $20 or more are subject to campaign finance disclosures. By giving a “Polis Penny,” back to $20 donors, the recall campaign shielded them.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is reviewing the complaint.
Kataline said that the recall proponents will keep the signatures they collected and not shred them, but said that their efforts were not a veiled campaign for “data mining.”
“Everybody today who heard the numbers for the very first time is heartbroken that they couldn’t get them all done,” she said. “But this is extraordinary. I consider it an accomplishment.”
There are also active recall campaigns against three Democratic state senators, including Pete Lee of Colorado Springs, Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and Leroy Garcia of Pueblo.
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Garcia is the Senate president.
The organizers of the recall effort targeting Lee have until Tuesday to collect 11,304 valid signatures to force a special election on whether to remove him from office. The Pettersen recall effort needs 18,376 signatures by Sept. 16 and the Garcia recall needs 13,506 signatures by Oct. 18.