Organizers drop recall efforts against Windholz, demanding she step down

The group organizing a recall against state Rep. JoAnn Windholz told The Colorado Independent today they plan to drop their effort.

Instead they will focus on keeping Windholz’s name and remarks blaming Planned Parenthood for the shooting at its Colorado Springs clinic in front of her district’s voters between now and Election Day, said organizer Steve Cohn.

Windholz’s comments, first reported by The Colorado Independent, earned her ire from across the nation and inspired Cohn and others to launch a recall effort against her within days of her Nov. 30 remarks.

They raised just over $5,500 for the effort; with some of those dollars going to cover nominal costs related to the rally. The majority of those funds will go to the families of the victims of the Nov. 27 shooting in Colorado Springs.

About a dozen members of the recall group came to the state Capitol today, asking that Windholz resign. They brought with them more than 63,000 signatures from an online petition that also asked Windholz to step down. According to Chris Burley of Denver, senior campaign manager for Care2, an online petition service, about 2,000 of those signatures came from Coloradans.

Her comments were outrageous and inappropriate, Burley said. “Coloradans have a right to expect better of their elected officials…It’s reasonable that when they call health care providers killers, there will be deranged individuals” who will pick up a gun, although Burley denied he was implying that Windholz’s remarks caused anyone to do so.

But the group struggled to find anyone at the Capitol who would take the petitions. Windholz wasn’t in her office, and the door was locked. The group finally settled on dropping the box off in the office of House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, who also wasn’t there.

Burley said he doesn’t expect Windholz to acknowledge the petition, although he told The Independent that he wished she would “come forth with a reasonable response and take responsibility for not being at her best in responding to the tragedy in Colorado Springs.” Burley also said Windholz’s statement showed a “remarkable lack of judgment and maturity” in how she chose to talk about the Colorado Springs shooting.

Earlier today, in a news conference with Capitol reporters, Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Gunbarrel, was asked her opinion on the recall. It’s Windholz’s choice, Hullinghorst said, to make those kinds of statements. “But I would prefer to let the election box take care of those issues.”

In response, Cohn said the group was at the Statehouse “to make sure that everyone who goes to the ballot box in November knows what Windholz said. We’re no longer focused on recalling her. We’re making sure her abhorrent words stay in the news until November.”

Windholz was unavailable for comment.

Correction 1/26/2016: The original story stated that Cohen said all of the money donated would be given to families of the shooting victims. He asked us to note that some of the money raised for the recall will be used to cover today’s rally costs.

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.