Conservatives hoping to oust state Rep. Rochelle Galindo from office just months after the Greeley Democrat was sworn in are launching a recall effort, organizers said Wednesday.
Spearheaded by a Greeley pastor with support from the top House Republican and leading GOP-aligned groups, the attempt to unseat Galindo could be the first of as many as 20 recall campaigns aimed at Democratic lawmakers set to launch in coming months, organizers said.
Furious Republicans have been pushing back against an aggressive Democratic agenda since the party took control of state government after securing sweeping wins in the November election.
"As a pastor, I've seen how the Colorado Legislature's overreach has affected my flock, from their jobs to how they raise their children and even the values they hold dear. Enough is enough," said Steve Grant, pastor of Greeley's Destiny Christian Center, in a statement.
"It's exciting to see the people in these communities work to take back their state," said House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, in a statement. "We are here to offer the resources and tools to help bring the grassroots success."
Values First Colorado, a political committee run by Neville's brother, Joe Neville, is among the groups supporting the Galindo recall.
"We're going to do everything we can to make sure this gets on the ballot," Joe Neville told Colorado Politics. "We're going to put our full effort forward."
Galindo, a former member of the Greeley City Council — she was the first openly gay Latina to serve on the body — was elected in November to House District 50 in Weld County by a seven-point margin.
In a statement to Colorado Politics, she said she's listening to her constituents and is "focused on delivering results for District 50."
“I’m a champion for working families and have been fighting to ensure all Coloradans have access to the quality of life our state has to offer. I have been working to fulfill that commitment through each piece of legislation I have sponsored this session," she said.
Her critics cite Galindo's positions on numerous contentious bills that have riled up opponents this session — including measures to overhaul regulations on the oil and gas industry, establish requirements for schools that teach sexual education, and allow authorities to seize firearms from those deemed a risk to themselves or others.
"She has voted wrong on every single issue the grassroots talk about," Joe Neville said. "Voters say they're not being heard, and Democrats are over-reaching. You can compile it all under one word — overreach."
Organizers filed paperwork to create the Official Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo on Monday and say they plan to submit a proposed petition — stating the grounds for a recall — to state officials before the end of the week.
Another group with ties to current and former Weld County GOP officials, dubbed the Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo, registered the same day. Joe Neville said the groups are discussing a plan to work together on the recall.
If the petition language is approved by the Secretary of State's Office, supporters of the recall will have 60 days to gather 5,696 signatures — 25 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for her office. Once the petition signatures have been verified, officials are required to set a recall election within 30-60 days.
If that happens, voters will be asked to decide whether to recall her and to pick a replacement from among candidates who petition their way onto the ballot.
Any elected official in Colorado — except members of Congress and U.S. senators — can be recalled by voters. Efforts to recall legislators can start five days after they take office, though efforts to remove all other elected officials can't begin until they've been in office for six months.
Galindo is the third Democratic lawmaker to face an organized recall effort this year, though hers could be the first to advance beyond the planning stages.
Last week, organizers began the process to recall state Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, and state Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, citing their support for a bill that would award Colorado's Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote for president.
A petition effort is also under way to ask voters to overturn that measure, which was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis — himself the target of a recall effort being organized by several groups.
By Wednesday afternoon, organizers had filed paperwork creating committees to recall Senate President Leroy Garcia and state Rep. Bri Buentello, both Pueblo Democrats.
In 2013 in the first successful legislative recalls in the state's history, Colorado voters recalled two Democratic state senators — Senate President John Morse of Fountain and state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo — over their support for gun-safety legislation opponents argued infringed on their Second Amendment rights.
A third Democratic senator, Evie Hudak of Arvada, resigned in late 2013 rather than face a recall, allowing a Democratic vacancy committee to name her replacement.
Galindo and Grant, the pastor leading the campaign to recall her, have found themselves on opposite sides of an issue before.
A year ago, when Galindo was serving on the Greeley City Council, the pastor asked the city to pass an ordinance restricting activity at a Greeley mosque, including prohibiting the mosque from broadcasting the traditional Islamic call to prayer and stipulating that Sharia Law could not be practiced there, the Greeley Tribune reported.
City officials didn't take action in response to Grant's request, and Galindo said at the time that she didn't "support any violation of residents’ First Amendment right to practice religion."
In a sermon posted online March 9, Grant tells his congregation that he recently contacted Galindo to warn her about the recall.
"My representative is a homosexual pervert, Rochelle Galindo, at the Colorado statehouse," Grant says in the video.
"And I wrote her and said, 'You campaigned as a moderate, and now you are legislating as an extremist, and I will do whatever it takes to get you removed from office.' I just told her that, straight out. She needs to know before it happens."
Grant says he told Galindo to vote against "this homosexual sex education bill," legislation he maintains "literally removes words like 'he' and 'she' because it is offensive to those who are gender-fluid, whatever that is. I think they need their fluids changed."
Grant continues: "She voted for something with an agenda against God."
Citing Galindo's support for the so-called "red flag" bill, which establishes a procedure for authorities to take guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others, Grant adds: "I might as well be one of them. Yes I am, and I'm not ashamed to be a threat."
After slamming Galindo's vote for a bill to ban gay conversion therapy, Grant says: "I report to the Lord Jesus Christ, not some puny little jerk down at the state."