PUEBLO – Democrat Sen. Angela Giron may have been shocked to learn Monday that she is headed for a recall election, but Republicans relished the news and believe they have the perfect candidate – retired Pueblo Deputy Police Chief George Rivera – for Senate District 3.
“He’s the real deal,” said Tom Ready, a dentist and former chair of the Pueblo County GOP. “He is a common sense kind of guy, and a natural and perfect candidate.”
Ready said that Giron tried to play the race card when the recall group, Pueblo Freedom and Rights, submitted more than 13,000 petition signatures for her recall earlier this month to the Secretary of State’s office.
“I know it’s partially about me being a Latina and being in this position of authority,” said Giron of the boxes of signed recall petitions.
That assertion, Ready said, turned off more voters. He estimated there were a larger percentage of Democrats than Republicans and independents who signed the petitions.
The Secretary of State’s office validated 12,648 petition signatures on Monday – more than the 11,285 required for a recall election. Giron has 15 days to challenge the petitions.
In response to questions about Giron’s comment, Rivera said that some people call themselves African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans, but he refuses to use those labels.
“I am first and foremost an American,” declared Rivera, who was born in Pueblo. “I have always thought of myself as American.”
“My mother, brother and older sister arrived in Pueblo in 1948, having crossed the border illegally. In 1963, they, along with my Grandmother, returned to Mexico to process their visas and after returning legally, all became American citizens,” explained Rivera.
Rivera, who served 34 years in the Pueblo Police Department, said he has zero tolerance for legislation that is unconstitutional.
He said the gun-control measures, particularly requiring background checks for all transfers and limiting ammo magazines to 15 rounds, only serve to hurt law abiding citizens and benefit criminals. The laws, he said, also pushed businesses out of Colorado and resulted in a loss of jobs and tax revenue.
“Gun control is not the answer to gun violence,” said Rivera. “The gun-control legislation was the spark that lit the fuse for Giron’s recall.”
Giron and Senate President John Morse (D-Colo. Springs) are facing recall elections, critics say, because they rammed through the gun-control measures and ignored opposition voiced by constituents.
Rivera is now gathering more than the required 1,000 petition signatures to place his name on the ballot to replace Giron.
Two Republican candidates – Bernie Herpin and Jaxine Bubis – aim to replace Morse in Senate District 11 if the recall succeeds in El Paso County.
Rivera’s list of legislative sins also include Giron’s push for election reform to allow same-day registration without a photo ID, higher renewable energy requirements in rural Colorado, diverting water from the Arkansas to northern urban areas, and broadening civil rights to allow employee discrimination lawsuits that make small employers vulnerable to frivolous cases and financial liabilities.
“Common sense tells me that we cannot continue to add regulation upon regulation on small businesses and expect them to thrive,” said Rivera.
Rivera, who with his wife Kathryn own The Down Beat blues music club, said, “I can assure you, we don’t sit around every day thinking, ‘if only the legislature would pass more regulations, our business would be a lot better.’”
The club’s favorite foot-tapping group is the Fat Chance Blues Band that includes “The Reverend” – George Rivera – as lead singer and guitarist. The group played last week in Mineral Park for the “Let’s get ready to rumble!!!” rally to meet Rivera, billed as the candidate to replace Giron.