Thirty-five years ago this week: State Representative Faye Flemming, R-Thornton, told the Colorado Statesman that “everything in my organization is in place” to deal with furious voters and their election to try to recall her.
Less than six weeks after taking office, Fleming changed his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican, leaving Democratic Party officials as well as campaign contributors furious at the move. United Steel Workers Local 8021 had even threatened to sue Fleming for misrepresentation.
Fleming was dismissive of it all.
“My sources tell me that the recall campaign came to a screeching halt,” she said vivaciously. “I understand they were very unsuccessful. It’s been almost four months since the change. If the people in the neighborhood had been so upset, we would have seen something more concrete by now, right? »
Fleming admitted the previous months had not been easy and she had received less than happy messages from angry voters.
“I’m not going to deny that there have been angry phone calls, angry letters and acts of revenge,” Fleming said.
Two weeks after his change of party, the Colorado GOP sent out questionnaires to Fleming voters. The former Democrat said that of the 800 questionnaires returned, only 10% contained negative comments. But 12% came back “with checks from sponsors to help defray costs.
“That tells me there’s some discontent there,” Fleming said, “but the level of dissatisfaction reported in the media isn’t accurate.”
Fleming also dismissed threats of legal action from the local steelworkers’ union.
“My voting record before switching parties and after was pro-Labour,” she said. “I don’t feel like I did anything to betray the United Steel Workers.”
Fleming argued that the AFL-CIO was always supportive and that she had thought their endorsement had been obtained regardless of partisan politics.
“She’s fine as far as I’m concerned,” Colorado AFL-CIO president Eldon Cooper said. “We are not involved in any recall campaign. I wouldn’t touch the lawsuit with a ten foot pole. We will not participate in this. The local union can do whatever it wants, but not on behalf of the AFL-CIO.
But Dean Prigelmeier, chairman of the Adams County Democratic Party, was not so optimistic.
“She changed her party affiliation on her lunch hour,” Prigelmeier said, “and she said she had been thinking about it for months. “As a Republican, she should have run as a Republican. She’s been a Democrat for nineteen years. She says she changed her whole political philosophy in three months. I doubt that’s the case.”
Prigelmeier said he, along with several other county party chairmen, felt bewildered about Fleming’s motivation. The Democratic Party donated $40,000 to Fleming’s campaign.
“She couldn’t have won without Democratic support,” Prigelmeier said. “By the end of the week, we will have three-quarters of the signatures needed for a recall election.”
Steelworkers Local 8031 leader Pat Kelly says he considers himself one of the ‘betrayed’ after Local 8031 donated $800 and countless hours of work volunteer at Fleming’s campaign.
“I was very angry,” Kelly said. “It seems to me that she had planned this even before the election. I think she knew she couldn’t be elected in Adams County as a Republican, so she ran as a Democrat and changed when elected. It’s something I can’t prove…unless she admits it, but I feel my organization has been the victim of fraud and deception.
Fleming said she hopes her new voting record will stand on its own.
“I’ve never asked anyone to vote for me just because I was a Democrat, and I won’t as a Republican,” Fleming said.
Rachael Wright is the author of the Captain Savva Mystery series, with degrees in political science and history from the University of Colorado Mesa and is a contributing writer at Colorado Politics and The Gazette.