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Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Dudley Brown earlier this month told RealVail.com he’s looking to take down a dozen Democratic lawmakers with recall elections following the Colorado legislative session that wrapped up on May 3. So far, however, there are just two recall petitions on file with the Colorado secretary of state.
And now, reportedly, one of those recall efforts is now a moot point after Greeley Democratic state Rep. Rochelle Galindo announced on Sunday she’s resigning rather than face recall, which means a Democratic vacancy committee will choose her replacement. Greeley police have opened an unspecified investigation into Galindo, who said in a statement she’s being falsely accused.
Galindo supposedly was on the recall list for her vote in favor of more stringent oil and gas drilling regulations, but Brown is also looking to remove lawmakers for their votes in favor of the so-called red flag law, or Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which allows police and family members to petition a judge to temporarily confiscate guns from someone deemed a risk to themselves or others.
Democratic Vail state Sen. Kerry Donovan is on Brown’s list, although there’s no recall petition against her on file with the secretary of state, and she made her feelings about Brown’s threats very clear in a RealVail.com article that first published in the Vail Daily on May 6.
“A few Republican operatives financed by Front Range special interest groups have threatened recalls for every elected official their candidates overwhelmingly lost to back in November,” Donovan told RealVail.com via a spokesman.
“I won my election by more than 14,000 votes because I said I would work on issues like expanding broadband access and reducing health care costs, and that is exactly what I am doing,” Donovan added. “I plan to keep the pledges I made and overwhelmingly won on …”
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is a gun rights advocacy groups aligned with the most conservative wing of the Colorado Republican Party.
Democratic state Rep. Dylan Roberts, whose district includes Eagle and Routt counties, told RealVail.com he doesn’t know if he’s on Brown’s list and isn’t worried if he is. Roberts said he serves the needs of the people who live in the two counties he represents and not outside special interest groups. He added that he was extremely transparent about his platform, elected by a 24-point margin in November and that he’s had nearly 30 town hall meetings in the last two years.
“I believe I sponsor bills and vote in a way that reflects the majority of my district,” Roberts said. “These recall threats seem to just be a desperate way for an organization to make money, intimidate people, and try to win races that they couldn’t win in the regularly-scheduled elections.”
Brown was instrumental in recalling two Democratic state senators over gun laws in 2013 – the first ever successful recalls of Colorado legislators. A third resigned rather than face recall, allowing Democrats to pick her successor.
Coming in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting and Sandyhook Elementary School massacre in 2012, Colorado lawmakers in 2013 passed universal background checks – supported by the vast majority of Americans – and a 15-round magazine limit. Democrats in 2014 quickly won back the two seats claimed by Republicans via recall.
Here’s an edited version of a phone interview with Brown conducted by RealVail.com on May 3:
RV: You said during your May 2 press conference announcing the RMGO lawsuit to overturn the red flag law that you’re aiming to recall nine Democratic state representatives and three state senators, correct?
DB: Yeah, we’re trying to. Obviously, we use a little smoke and mirrors, but, newsflash, we’re not giving the press our game plan.
RV: But you did hold a press conference at the capitol in Denver, with some Republican lawmakers, and fielded questions on that game plan. How did that go?
DB: If you saw [9News reporter] Marshall Zelinger’s piece on us, he was sneering the whole time.
RV: So you didn’t like his coverage of your presser?
DB: I won’t give an interview to the Colorado Independent because it’s money directly from [Democratic funders and business leaders] Tim Gill and Pat Stryker, so it’s like Colorado Pols with a slightly different name …. [A Colorado Independent reporter] started asking me questions and I said, ‘No, I’m not talking to you. You might just want to leave.’ So he went over and whispered to Zelinger to get him to ask me the question and Zelinger said, ‘Why do Democrats win elections when they have policy concerns, but you guys go in and launch recalls?’ And I chuckled. I’m like, ‘Well, that’s not really true, now is it? Recalls have only been launched one time in Colorado’s history in 2013 and that was all on guns — except for when the Dems did it in the Jeffco school board elections [in 2015]. They sure well did it there, didn’t they? And by the way, we are very involved in elections, so it’s not like we aren’t involved in them.
RV: Democrats basically passed the agenda they ran on last year when they overwhelmingly took both chambers of the legislature and virtually all of the statewide offices. Doesn’t that make this a lot tougher than 2013, especially with an all mail-in ballot instead of polling place elections for recalls?
DB: There are multiple phases to a recall. There’s signature gathering [requiring signatures representing 25 percent of total ballots cast in a district] and then there’s the legal side, because the Dem party knows that if it comes to an election, they’re going to have a tough time. But who’s motivated to turn out in a recall and actually cast a vote? People are mad. People are mad right now. Well, it ain’t just guns like it was in 2013, right?
RV: What other issues?
DB: I know some other people who will release a poll they did in a number of districts of the people who are mad and want to recall a given legislator. Oil and gas is one of them, but there’s a lot of anger over the sex ed bill and there’s a lot of anger over national popular vote. Obviously, gun ranks very high, so there’s no shortage of issues for voters to be angry about.
RV: Some sheriffs and prosecutors who supported red flag last year, including Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek, switched sides this year and opposed it. Why do you think that is? Did the bill change that much from 2018 to 2019?
DB: Nope, I don’t think they were that different, last year and this year’s bill. I don’t think it was different enough to warrant some massive swing. It’s just this year sheriffs are able to read the tea leaves and that their constituents are now understanding what the concept of red flag is. And now they’re realizing that they’re going to face a big backlash from their constituents if they’re forced to carry out these, quote, protection orders. They don’t want to do it.
RV: But the state’s top law enforcement official, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, said he expects sheriffs to enforce the new law once it kicks in Jan. 1, 2020.
DB: It could be a showdown. If you’re a sheriff and you swear an oath to the constitution and then you’re supposed to react properly, why swear an oath to the constitution if you can then just say, ‘Heck, I’ll just violate it?’ He’s elected too, just like an attorney general is.
RV: You announced your lawsuit on procedural grounds the day before the legislative session ended. Why was that?
DB: All we were doing was announcing one step, and we planned this out for several weeks, but we didn’t want to give them time to turn around and re-pass the bill if a judge all of sudden threw it out. That’s why we waited until [May 2].
RV: So if this approach fails, you’ll try other lawsuits, even though these types of laws have been upheld on constitutional grounds in other states?
DB: We look and see that we have a shot both procedurally and constitutionally on the actual merits of red flag.
RV: But is that why you decided to lead with a procedural complaint about whether the text of the law was properly read during deliberations on the red flag bill?
DB: One of the reporters [at the news conference] said, ‘Aren’t you worried about throwing this out on a technicality?’ I’m like, ‘The constitution is now a technicality? So all you reporters here are going to publish your stories based on the first amendment to the constitution protecting your right to free speech and a free press and you want to call that a technicality too?’
RV: So you really think you’ll have the same kind of success on this issue in 2019 as you did in 2013?
DB: Look, [ in 2013, former Pueblo Democratic state Sen.] Angela Giron was recalled in a district that was two and a half to one Democrats to Republicans. She got smoked. So that’s why [current Pueblo Democratic state Senate President] Leroy Garcia [who voted against red flag] was so deathly afraid of this. I mean, maybe some Denver Dems can thumb their nose at this, but not many others can.
RV: Red flag had Republican sponsorship last year from former state Rep. Cole Wist and even the National Rifle Association said it was open to some forms of the law. Why not RMGO?
DB: Cole Wist, he lied to me last year when I called him and said, ‘I heard you were working on red flag. Oh no, I’m not.’ And then we filed a [Colorado Open Records Act request] and found out, yes, he was. And he had been lying to me all along. And so we went out and lit-dropped his district and mailed and we put a little bit of effort into ruining his life. And he paid the price. [Wist lost to primary red flag sponsor Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Democrat who lost his son in the Aurora theater shooting. A recall petition targeting Sullivan was approved by the secretary of state on Monday, May 13.]
RV: Is that why not a single Republican backed red flag this year, out of fear of RMGO?
DB: I know a lot of RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] all bellyached about, ‘RMGO didn’t play on the team.’ We’re not owned by the Republican Party and when Republicans don’t play on the pro-gun team, we will piss in their ice bowl. We don’t care. In fact, we enjoy it. As the saying goes, ‘If you want to stop a RINO stampede, you better shoot the first one.’
RV: That’s what keeps even moderate Republicans in line with the RMGO agenda?
DB: If it’s a group of charging RINOs, you better shoot the very lead one or you’re never going to stop them all, because once they figure out they can do it, I mean they want out of the trap. They don’t want to deal with [gun control group] Moms Demand Action. By the way, Moms Demand Action? To me that sounds more like a widow’s dating service.
RV: There are other conservative groups out there raising money for recalls. What makes RMGO unique?
DB: They’re just a part of the little Republican social scene. And they look down on us like we’re a bunch of hairy Vikings, which we are. But we have what they don’t, which is lots of people.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the news on Monday that a recall petition targeting state Rep. Tom Sullivan was approved by the secretary of state.