Cole Wist, a former Republican state representative from Centennial, on Tuesday blasted the state GOP leadership and a gun-rights group for seeking to recall the Democrat who defeated him last November, Rep. Tom Sullivan.
As a lawmaker last year, Wist broke ranks with Republicans in backing a version of the "red flag" bill allowing a court to remove firearms from someone deemed dangerous. That bill failed in a legislature under split party control.
He lost his seat to Sullivan, a staunch gun-control supporter who backed this year's version of the red flag bill, which passed in a legislature controlled by Democrats.
That measure is opposed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), which announced May 2 it was suing to overturn the red-flag law. RMGO and its backers last year targeted Wist as being anti-gun over his stance on the 2018 version of the red flag bill.
Monday, the Secretary of State's Office announced approval of a recall petition against Sullivan. That petition is backed by Kristi Burton Brown, vice chair of the Colorado GOP.
It is unfortunate but crystal clear. RMGO owns the Colorado Republican Party.— Cole Wist (@colewist) May 14, 2019
Tuesday, Wist tweeted this: "I was in denial. Until yesterday. Last year, state GOP leadership failed to speak up to defend me when RMGO carpet bombed my house district with negative flyers. Now, these same leaders pledge to work with RMGO to take out my successor in a recall. I do not support this effort."
In another tweet, Wist added: "It is unfortunate but crystal clear. RMGO owns the Colorado Republican Party."
Brown said Monday that she launched the recall "as a citizen and a mom" and not as a state GOP official, although she expects the party to eventually support the recall.
In a statement to Colorado Politics, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the party's chairman, said, "Kristi initiated this recall effort in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party. We will evaluate the HD 37 recall as it proceeds, just as we do with any potential recall or election."
Sullivan defeated Wist in House District 37 by 8 percentage points.
Wist also directed a tweet to RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown. "Sorry to break it to you, Dudley. You didn’t 'ruin my life.' I lost an election. Get some perspective. Compared to what folks go through every day, my bad election day is just so insignificant. I am blessed with an amazing family and great friends. I will be just fine."
Wist's tweets drew this from Democratic Rep. Matt Gray of Broomfield: "We have surely disagreed, but @colewist is one of the most honorable people I’ve met in this state. I know what it’s like not to support a recall that some of your friends want. If you want leaders with integrity instead of blind partisanship, stand with the people who show it."
The recall targets Sullivan for his sponsorship of House Bill 1177, this year's red flag bill, among other measures.
Brown said in a May 2 news conference that RMGO would target nine members of the House and three from the Senate for recalls.
Republicans would have to win every recall to take control of either the House or Senate.
Sullivan did not return a call for comment.