AURORA | The GOP-backed recall of Centennial state Rep. Tom Sullivan is being dropped, according to party officials.
“While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is,” said Colorado GOP Vice President Kristi Burton Brown in a statement on Facebook. “The best strategies are unified strategies and, in order to accomplish the most good in the shortest time, we have decided to pull essential resources from this recall and free up volunteers to help finish the National Popular Vote petition effort and to focus on recalling Democrat Senators who are not up for re-election in 2020.
The recall was launched after Sullivan, whose son Alex was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, sponsored “red flag” legislation. The bill, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis, allows law enforcement to take a person’s guns if they present a threat to themselves or others.
“The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the Colorado GOP again underestimated the support we have from the people in my district,” Sullivan said in a statement. “I’m excited to continue talking to voters and making sure their voices are heard in the State House. I’ll always work hard to earn their votes and make sure that fringe groups can’t undermine our democracy.”
This was the second year in a row a red flag bill was introduced, and a bill Sullivan said on the campaign trail he’d support.
“Watching your child’s body drop into the ground is as bad as it gets,” Sullivan said during a speech announcing the bill earlier this year. “And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that none of you have to do that.”
Colorado Democrats pounced the about face.
“Today’s decision proves these recall efforts by the Colorado Republican Party are a sham,” said Colorado Democrat Party Chairman Morgan Carroll. “But they clearly haven’t ended their scheme to undermine democracy, since their statement indicates they’re still window shopping for Senate seats they can try to steal through a recall effort.”
Introduction and passage of the bill split law enforcement officials across the state. Nearly half of Colorado sheriffs said they opposed the legislation. In Aurora, police leaders called for an active support position on the bill.
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler was a notable supporter of the bill last year, but dropped his support this year with criticisms regarding due process.
The recall efforts were as dividing across the state and attracted attention from national players, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Everytown, an advocacy group that says its for “common sense” gun laws, donated $100,000 to protect Sullivan from the recall efforts.
Gun extremists admit recall campaign is struggling as Colorado @MomsDemand volunteers canvass for Sullivan, a freshman lawmaker whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting. @Everytown contributed $100,000 to help stop the recall. https://t.co/RU3KXBv0W8
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) June 11, 2019
Former state Rep. Cole Wist, who co-sponsored a similar red flag bill the year prior, said on Twitter he did not support the recall.
Wist was the target of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado-based pro-Second Amendment group led by Dudley Brown. RMGO said online that Wist had been “voting like a gun-grabbing Democrat.”
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.
— Cole Wist (@colewist) May 14, 2019
Sullivan beat Wist in 2018.
Burton Brown said in her Facebook post that Democrats “pulled out every stop.”
“The best strategies are unified strategies and, in order to accomplish the most good in the shortest time, we have decided to pull essential resources from this recall and free up volunteers to help finish the National Popular Vote petition effort and to focus on recalling Democrat Senators who are not up for re-election in 2020,” she said.
Ian Silverii, executive director of Progress Now Colorado, said the recall “exposed the biggest problem in Colorado politics today.”
“Unserious extremists and outright grifters have taken control of the Colorado Republican Party. The problem has been festering for years while the local party establishment believed it could direct Dudley Brown’s mob to its own ends,” Silverri said in a statement. “Now the inmates have taken control of the asylum, and this latest humiliating failure for Colorado Republicans is the inevitable outcome.”