Tom Sullivan school shooting

Colorado State Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, center, applauds for speakers during a community vigil to honor the victims and survivors of yesterday's fatal shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch, on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Sullivan lost his son, Alex, in the massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

A petition to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan, the Arapahoe County Democrat whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shootings, was approved Monday by the Secretary of State's Office.

Sullivan was a main sponsor of the "red flag" gun bill approved in this year's legislative session. The new law lets a judge consider evidence that a gun owner poses a danger to himself and others. If so, those guns can be seized temporarily while the owner gets help.

Recall leader Kristi Brown, vice chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party, said Sullivan and his Democratic House colleagues "shut down the voice of parents in Colorado. People in Colorado, and parents in particular, deserve to be listened to."

Brown said she's launching the recall as a "citizen and a mom," not as a GOP officer, but she anticipates state Republicans will support the effort.

"As a party, we are going to support recalls," she said, pointing to statements made by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who was elected state party chairman in March.

Republicans and their conservative allies have said they plan to launch a dozen or so recalls against Democrats.

Sullivan was elected to Arapahoe County's Republican-leaning House District 37 in November by an 8 percentage point margin.

He unseated Assistant House GOP leader Cole Wist, who last year sponsored a version of the "red flag" gun legislation backed this year by Sullivan.

Sullivan showed up at the Capitol every day of the session wearing a leather jacket that belonged to his son, Alex, one of 12 victims killed in the 2012 shootings at an Aurora movie theater. And the threat of a recall doesn't intimidate him, he said.

“Alex being murdered in the Aurora Theater Massacre was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. Threats from extremists like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners do not scare me, and they will certainly never stop me from protecting other families from that same heartbreak," Sullivan said in a statement to Colorado Politics.

"I won’t be bullied by the gun lobby and I will always keep my promises to my community and my constituents."

Sullivan's detractors have until July 12 to gather 10,035 valid signatures — 25 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for his office.

If they succeed, officials would then set a date for a recall election, and candidates hoping to replace Sullivan could gather petition signatures to appear on the same ballot.

A recall aimed at former state Rep. Rochelle Galindo concluded Sunday when the Greeley Democrat announced she was resigning her seat due to unspecified allegations that had emerged against her in recent days.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line Second Amendment advocacy group, is committed to help Kristi Brown oust Sullivan, said Dudley Brown, executive director of RMGO.

"I welcome any group that wants to jump in on it," Kristi Brown said. "A lot of Colorado parents in my district are upset with Rep. Sullivan and the way he voted."

But, she added: "I did not file it because RMGO asked me to."

In the petition approved Monday, Kristi Brown argues that Sullivan "should be recalled for ignoring the will of his constituents."

The petition lists four bills he sponsored or supported. In addition to the red flag bill, they are the new law regulating the oil and gas industry, a law that sets sex education standards that public schools can adopt, and legislation that has Colorado join with other states to award their electoral votes for president to the winner of the national popular vote.

Another group is gathering signatures in an attempt to overturn the 'National Popular Vote' law, which isn't expected to take effect before next year's presidential election.

Kristi Brown said she expects to have ample resources available for the recall campaign but declined to say how much.

But Democracy First Colorado, formed by Democrats to defend lawmakers from recalls, is ready, said spokesman Curtis Hubbard.

"Recalls are not the forum for policy disputes. We will vigorously defend the lawmakers being targeted by scammers and special interests looking to bolster their causes and line their pockets at taxpayers’ expense," Hubbard said.

Dudley Brown and RMGO played key roles in a series of 2013 recalls over gun-control laws passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature.

Voters ousted Senate President John Morse of Fountain and state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo. State Sen. Evie Hudak of Arvada later resigned in the face of a threatened recall, allowing a Democratic vacancy committee to name her replacement.

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