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Politics and Government

Attempted recalls of Democratic state senators dead after proponents decide not to turn in signatures

The campaigns to recall Democratic state Sens. Pete Lee and Brittany Pettersen told the Colorado Secretary of State's office on Tuesday that will not be turning in the signatures they collected

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For the second time in a week, efforts to boot elected Democrats from office in Colorado have fallen short. 

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The campaigns to recall Democratic state Sens. Pete Lee, of Colorado Springs, and Brittany Pettersen, of Lakewood, told the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday that they will not be turning in the signatures they collected to force special elections to remove the pair from their jobs.

To send the question of whether to recall Lee on to voters, the group needed to collect and submit 11,304 signatures by Tuesday — the end of a 60-day window they had to complete the task. 

The Pettersen recall campaign’s deadline to collect 18,276 signatures is Sept. 16 — and it could continue circulating petitions until then because the effort is not officially nullified until the deadline passes or the campaign is ended in writing, the Secretary of State’s Office says.

State Sens. Pete Lee D-Colorado Springs, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood.

Lee said that he was grateful that voters in his district “have soundly rejected a recall effort initiated against me.” He thanked those who helped with outreach in urging his constituents not to sign the recall petition.

“With the defeat of three successive recall efforts, my hope is that we reaffirm our faith in the electoral process, respect the will of the voters and leave extraordinary measures for extraordinary circumstances,” Lee said in a written statement. “Let’s renew our commitment to working together on policies that benefit the people of Colorado.”

Pettersen echoed that sentiment.

“I knew my constituents wouldn’t fall for this scam, and I’ll continue to fight for them every day,” she said in a statement.

The failed efforts comes after the backers of a campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis last week also opted not to turn in the signatures they had collected after they fell well short of the 631,266 needed to move forward with trying to remove him from office. 

MORE: Interest in reforming Colorado’s system to recall elected officials is building — on both sides of the aisle

Not turning in the signatures allows the people who signed the petitions to be a part of potential future recalls of Polis, Pettersen and Lee. The maneuver also prevents the public from knowing who backed the recalls. 

The failed Pettersen and Lee recalls are the third and fourth attempts to remove Democratic members of the legislature or a statewide elected official that have fallen short this year. An effort to remove state Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, from office was abandoned over the summer

There is still one recall campaign active, against Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Democrat from Pueblo.

The effort to oust Garcia has until Oct. 18 to collect 13,506 signatures.


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