DENVER—They’ve got little money and even less political experience, but so far the plumbers from Pueblo are beating Colorado’s Democratic Party politicos at their own game.
Democrats lost another round Tuesday in their battle to stave off the recall of state Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) after Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert rejected a protest filed against the recall drive.
Staiert ruled that the recall committee was not required to include language in petitions calling for the election of a successor to replace Giron, a decision that came as no surprise, given that Staiert made the same ruling last week in an identical protest filed on behalf of Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs).
The decision sets up a showdown at Denver District Court, where attorney Mark Grueskin filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the wording of the recall petitions and seeking an injunction to suspend the recall process.
Without the injunction, Gov. John Hickenlooper is required to set a date for an election that would fall in late August or September. Analysts say Giron and Morse would fare better if the recall were to fall on the Nov. 5 general election.
Giron has argued that a recall election could cost as much as $250,000, something that “Pueblo taxpayers can hardly afford,” according to a statement on the Pueblo United for Angela website.
Victor Head, the Pueblo plumber who’s running the Giron recall drive along with his brother Adam Head and Ernest Mascarenas—also plumbers—said he expects the pro-Giron group, Pueblo United for Angela, to continue to seek delays.
“That’s probably their tactic, to drag this out as far as possible,” said Head. “But even so, every time this happens, we get more news coverage. And the more people hear about it, the more people get fired up.”
Still, a drawn-out legal battle would be expensive, and that could be a problem for the Giron recall committee, which may be rich in enthusiasm but not in revenue.
Financial-disclosure statements filed last week showed that Pueblo Freedom and Rights has raised about $36,000, most of which has come in the form of small donations and in-kind contributions. The group had $440 cash on hand as of its June 24 filing.
Meanwhile, Pueblo United for Angela has pulled in nearly three times as much, collecting more than $93,000 with about $34,000 cash on hand as of July 1. Recent contributions include $3,500 from the American Federation of State, Federal and Municipal Employees, the government workers’ union based in Washington, D.C.
Head says his group has enough funding to make it through the District Court battle, but could fall short if the challenge reaches the Colorado Supreme Court.
“We’re going to run out of money at one point,” said Head. “I hope we don’t lose because we run out of money. But we’ll see. I’m hoping someone will step up.”