GLENDALE —When Juli-Andra Fuentes first signed on to head up what is likely the biggest political challenge in Colorado history, she never dreamed it would become as big as it has, as fast as it has.
But the current political climate in Colorado has recalls, referendums and repeals in everyone’s vernacular.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a grassroots movement of this type in my lifetime,” she said about efforts to recall Gov. Jared Polis. “I think we have the advantage that (people) really don’t take us seriously, and that we have to talk to the 9 Newses of the world, when really, we don’t. We can use Twitter. We can use Facebook. We can organize. We don’t have to take it to the mainstream media platform anymore.”
Fuentes, along with Shane Donnelley, who initially launched the idea; Mandy Nelson, a military veteran who is the designated filing agent for the group; and Jason Williamson, a Weld County resident who works in the oil and gas industry, plan to do just that.
On Saturday, Fuentes was on hand for the grand opening of the first office for the “Official Recall Polis” campaign at 410 Main Street in Longmont, proudly greeting the dozens of people — some of whom drove from as far as Durango —who wanted more information on how to oust Colorado’s 43rd Governor, Jared Polis.
“I don’t think anyone thought it was going to take off the way it did,” Fuentes said. “It just grew organically, very, very, very quickly.”
Fuentes said the outpouring of support has been phenomenal with more than 35,000 members on the group’s Facebook page, and more than 150 active volunteers, across the state, working around the clock to get ready for when the recall is legally possible.
Polis is not eligible for recall until six months after he was sworn into office, which is July 8.
“About 33,000 of those were in under a month,” she said of the Facebook followers. “Most of us have never even met except for online. We just all love Colorado. We want our freedoms. We don’t want to see our Bill of Rights — our constitutional rights — taken away. ‘We the people are tired of our government overreaching and overstepping our boundaries.”
Gubernatorial recall attempts are not as rare as their successes are. In fact, according to The Center on the American Governors at Rutgers University, Californians attempted — unsuccessfully — to recall 32 governors before they finally ousted Gray Davis in 2003.
There have only been three recall attempts that have eventually made it onto the ballot, including that of Davis. In 1921, North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier was ousted; and in 2012, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall attempt.
Polis would be the first Gov. in Colorado to face a recall if the attempt is successful. To make it onto the ballot the group needs signatures from more than 600,000 registered voters, and they will have just 60 days to gather that number, although Fuentes said they are aiming for 900,000 to account for any deemed invalid.
Some have said the requirements are impossible to meet, pointing to Polis’ 11-point win over Walker Stapleton and his deep personal wealth war chest, of which he spent about $25 million of to win election.
Although she acknowledged Polis seems to have a never-ending pot of money, she said it actually motivates her and other hard-working families, and she is confident they will prevail. They have retained former Secretary of State and attorney Scott Gessler to represent them. Gessler is working on the paperwork so that everything is ready to go on the first day possible, she said.
“We’ve sat back and let these people run the show for too long,” Fuentes said. “They come in with their money, and they think they can just change the laws and take away our rights. So many people are starting to wake up. No, we’re not worried. And we’re not going to take it lying down. Yes, he has a lot of money. Yes, he has a lot of power. Yes, there are a lot of people behind him that have a lot of money and a lot of power that we’re up against. But we’re not backing down.”
In addition to their Facebook page, the group has started two crowdfunding accounts, one with GoFundMe, which to date has raised just under $6,000, and one with FreedomFy,* which to date has raised slightly more than $15,500. Fuentes said a mass messaging campaign using REVV will also begin soon. The group can also accept donations through its website: “Official Recall Polis.”
“We want to provide choice,” she said. “Freedom of choice. You can donate to whichever platform you want.”
She also clarified that her group is not connected in any way to a separate Independent Expenditure Committee: Resist Polis PAC.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation about that,” she said. “They are a PAC not an issue committee, so they cannot run a recall campaign. We are the official committee to recall Polis.”
The group has received other support through in-kind donations that she hopes to build on. Office space has been donated in several communities, she said, and those offices will open soon. She hopes to work with supporters of the recall effort to get donated space in all 64 counties.
“We’re looking into do this in a way it’s never been done before,” she said. “The way it’s always been done before is you go out and hire professional signature collectors, and that costs a lot of money. If all 35,000 people on our Facebook page grabbed 20 signatures each, we would make our goal.”
The group’s next filing with the Secretary of State’s Office is due April 26.
“This really is a grassroots effort of we the people,” she said. “All of us. We live here. We work here. We have families here. Our kids go to school here. We are real people. We don’t like being smeared in the media. It’s not fun for any of us, but we are passionate about Colorado. This is not a one-party thing. People are angry across the board. People care about freedom. There is a lot of propaganda in the media, and that’s not who we are, and that’s not what were about. We’re about recalling someone who really doesn’t care about our rights. He doesn’t have any connection with we the people.”
* FreedomFy is a project of the Independence Institute, as is Complete Colorado.