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Court declines to hear appeal on Colorado recall effort

Colorado Republican Sen. Kevin Priola, left, Democratic House Speaker KC Becker, center, and Democratic Sen. Lois Court discuss a proposed ballot initiative to let the state keep excess tax revenue in Denver on March 20, 2019. A judge has postponed a Republican-backed recall campaign against Priola, who recently switched parties to Democrat. The Denver district court judge ruled that the recall effort against Priola should be conducted after Priola is sworn in next year to represent a new district, which was created by redistricting. (Jim Anderson/Associated Press file)

DENVER – Colorado’s Supreme Court has let stand a lower court judge’s ruling that postponed a Republican-backed recall campaign against state Sen. Kevin Priola, who switched parties to Democrat to protest what he called the GOP’s refusal to repudiate assertions that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

The Supreme Court declined without comment to hear the appeal by Advance Colorado Action, a conservative group backing the circulation of recall petitions in Priola’s suburban Denver district. It issued its decision on Tuesday.

The lower court's preliminary injunction temporarily enhanced Democrats’ ability to retain a majority in the state Senate, where they hold a 21-14 advantage, after the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The party holds a larger majority in the House.

A recall committee began collecting voter signatures soon after Priola announced his party switch in August, citing his disgust with the Republican Party’s tolerance of persistent assertions that the 2020 vote was stolen. Those assertions have repeatedly been proven false.

Denver District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses ruled Oct. 10 that recall supporters must wait until Jan. 9, when Colorado’s 2023 Legislature convenes and Priola is sworn in, to collect signatures in a new district Priola represents that is more favorable to Republicans. Priola’s district boundaries were changed as a result of redistricting.

Moses ruled the secretary of state’s office erred in approving the recall campaign beforehand. Petitioners had until Nov. 8 to collect enough signatures to force an eventual recall vote, possibly in January.

A Democrat-backed committee created to fight the recall sued to challenge the secretary of state’s ruling.

Michael Fields, president of Advance Colorado Action, said the recall campaign had collected more than 20,000 voter signatures and was considering its options, including with the lower court.

“It’s unfair given the secretary of state’s office told us this is how we had to do it,” Fields said. “It’s not fair to the people who signed the petition.”

Priola is in his second term as a state senator and is not up for reelection in November.