Colorado Republican Sen. Kevin Priola switches party to Democrat

Colorado Sen. Kevin Priola, a Henderson Republican, announced Monday morning that he is changing his party affiliation to Democrat.

Priola, considered a more moderate Republican in the statehouse, said he believed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol would make the Republican Party distance itself from Donald Trump and “the political environment he created.” But it did not, and he said he watched “brave and honorable Republicans” who did get threatened and ridiculed.

He said he could no longer support a party that was OK with “a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election and continue to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen” and one where his GOP colleagues “would rather deny the existence of human -caused climate change than take action.”

Priola has been at odds with his party over legislation related to the climate he’s sponsored and legislation he’s supported in the past with Democrats. He will be entering his third year of his most recent four-year Senate term. He previously served four years in the House.

“Over the past four years, Senate Democrats have taken bold, meaningful action to curb emissions, prepare for climate related disasters — including wildfires — and invest in renewable energy. And despite consistent fierce opposition from his Republican colleagues, Senator Priola has been a tremendously valuable partner of ours almost every step of the way,” Democratic Senate President Steve Fenberg said in a written statement.

Fenberg added that Priola has been outspoken about election conspiracy theories and sponsored legislation with Fenberg on election security and integrity.

“At the same time, the Colorado Republican Party was largely silent about the election crimes Tina Peters had been accused of and not a single one of his Republican colleagues, in either Chamber, supported SB22-153,” Fenberg said.

Priola’s decision makes a for state Republicans who needed three seats to win the majority in the Colorado Senate — now they need four, making it a much heavier lift in the November election.

“Even if there will continue to be issues that I disagree with the Democratic Party on, there is too much at stake right now for Republicans to be in charge,” Priola wrote in his letter. “Coloradans cannot afford for their leaders to give credence to election conspiracies and climate denialism. Simply put, we need Democrats in charge because our planet and our democracy depend on it.”

Leave a Comment