Before Tuesday ends, thousands of signed petition pages calling for the recall of Gov. Jared Polis should be submitted to petition custodians. But will they be enough?
The effort to recall Polis requires 631,266 valid signatures, and recall organizers set a goal of 900,000 to compensate for invalid signatures.
Dismiss Polis, one of two groups circulating the petitions, doesn't yet know how many signatures have been collected, spokeswoman Karen Kataline said Tuesday, adding that the petitions won't be turned in if the minimum wasn't reached. The group will hold a news conference on Friday at 10 a.m. on the west steps of the state Capitol to announce the results.
Signing sites were set up in 53 of the state's 64 counties, including multiple locations in densely populated Denver, El Paso, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, Pueblo and Weld counties, according to the Recall Polis and Dismiss Polis websites. More than 230 businesses were listed as petition sites, and signing events were held around the state.
The petition effort has run on a shoestring budget. The Dismiss Polis issue committee raised $34,62.50, according to newly filed reports with the Secretary of State's Office. The largest donation, $10,000, came from Cervi Enterprises of Greeley, a cattle operation. Most of the expenditures have been on petition printing or "sign here" materials.
The Resist Polis PAC has a campaign finance filing due Thursday. Through Aug. 5, that recall committee had raised $70,825.55. The biggest donation, $5,000, came from Donegal Futures of Wilmington, Del. The filing does not show an address for the company, a possible violation of campaign finance laws. No such company is listed in Colorado's business database; Delaware lists the company in good standing but with no address or recent corporate report. A company website couldn't be found.
Resist Polis has spent $26,061 so far, including $10,852 on advertising and $5,109.15 on consultants.
Democratic operatives have made campaign finance complaints against both recall groups, claiming failure to properly record contributions.
Two other recall petitions, targeting Democratic state senators, are due in the next two weeks. The petition to recall state Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, is due Sept. 10; the recall petition for state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, is due Sept. 16. A third petition, targeting Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, isn't due until next month.
The recalls targeting Polis, Lee and Pettersen cite the same reasons: They supported the 2019 bill on the National Popular Vote (Senate Bill 42), which passed on a straight party line in the Senate and with 34 Democrats voting in favor in the House (six Democrats voted against it). That measure was challenged by a citizen initiative, the first since 1932, that the secretary of state certified last week for the 2020 ballot.
Other measures that drew the recalls were Senate Bill 181, for oil and gas reform; House Bill 1032, changing the state's sex education curriculum; and House Bill 1177, the red-flag gun control bill. All passed with no Republican support in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.
Polis sought donations in July to his political campaign to fight the recall. The results of that fundraising request will be reported in October.
Two other Democratic-led groups are fundraising to combat the recalls: Democracy First Colorado has raised $616,046 through Aug. 6, with the largest donation ($132,500) coming from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee of Washington, D.C., which backs Democrats for legislatures.
Conservation Colorado ($75,000) and Emily's List ($72,000), which backs Democratic women for elected office, are also large donors. Conservation Colorado gave $190,000 to a political action committee backing Polis for governor in last year's election.
The committee has spent $289,6054.85, mostly on consultants ($255,782.72), plus $48,994 for direct mail and door-to-door literature, and $13,250 to Recht Kornfeld, the law firm of Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin that filed the campaign finance complaints against the recall groups.
The second committee, Our Colorado Way of Life, has raised $263,306.97 through Aug. 21, including $35,000 from the DLCC and substantial sums from gun control groups, such as Colorado Ceasefire ($4,100) and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ($5,000). The anti-recall committee got started early by opposing the recall of Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, one of the sponsors of the red flag law.
The committee has spent just over $201,000, with $142,843 going to consultants, including those who did direct mail and door-to-door literature. Another $40,484 went for advertising.