Recall Effort Against Anti-Gun Colorado Legislator Ends

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Pro-gun activists desperately wanted to unseat an anti-gun lawmaker. They began the recall process, one they’d used successfully before in the state. However, it also spurred anti-gun forces to rally behind the legislator in question, making it even more difficult to unseat the state representative.

Now, it seems the recall effort is over.

Following attention from prominent Democrats, and an announcement that gun control groups had donated over $100,000 to fighting the effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan (D), backers of the recall campaign have ended their pursuit.

GOP Vice Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown formally submitted the petition.  In a Facebook post she wrote, “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.”

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office confirmed the end of the effort.

Frankly, he wasn’t likely to lose anyway.

Initially, I was thrilled at the idea of a recall. Sullivan is rabidly anti-gun, and I’m all for making it difficult for such legislators to do much besides fight for their political survival. However, as I noted in another post:

A recall does little good if all the resources are spent only for Sullivan to win yet again. While my initial reaction was joy at the recall, the truth is that now I’m not so certain it’ll go the way Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the group spearheading the effort, thinks it will.

Sullivan has never been accused of duplicity when it comes to guns, so far as I know. He’s anti-gun, and everyone knows it. That includes his constituents. It may be a swing seat, but I suspect the voters there are mostly ambivalent about guns.

If Sullivan was up for reelection in 2020, what good would a recall have done anyway? Regardless of who won, the victor would start campaigning almost immediately for 2020. There wouldn’t be any time to do anything before the campaign season fired back up, which would likely hurt a replacement but empower Sullivan.

Further, this means Sullivan will probably have a lot of angry supporters come next year. There’s not enough time between now and then for people to forget what happened.

Sullivan, however, is quite thrilled with what transpired.

“This is a huge day,” Sullivan said. “No one has ever stopped one of these recalls before. We’re the first ones. We stopped this dead in its tracks and it’s not going to go on anymore.”

So now he’s likely to get elevated even higher by anti-gun supporters throughout the state who already have him ready for sainthood by virtue of losing his son in the Aurora theater shooting. The two things combined make for a potent anti-gun combination, at least in their eyes. He’ll be able to write his own ticket as far as they’re concerned.

That could lead to all kinds of things for him politically.

Recall efforts are great, but they need to be carefully considered. It’s risk versus reward, and the question now is whether the risk and the aftermath of the outcome were worth the potential reward?