DENVER – Rob Harris will be the first one to admit that recalling Senate President John Morse (D-Colo. Springs) won’t be easy. But Harris is confident that his grassroots campaign has what it takes to end the second-term lawmaker’s career at the State Capitol.
“We are volunteers, people who have never been involved in politics,” says Harris of his group, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund. “It’s a David vs. Goliath thing, but we’re still going to be successful.”
Morse is one of several Democratic lawmakers who have been targeted for recall after backing controversial gun control proposals approved by the legislature earlier this year.
Morse has gained particular notoriety, however, for authoring a bill that sought to hold gun manufacturers, retailers and even individual owners legally liable for damage caused by certain firearms – even if the gun in question was lost or sold. That bill was not among those Hickenlooper signed into law, but the measure earned him plenty of critics – including from some Democrats.
“That’s crazy. That’s absolutely nuts,” said State Rep. Ed Vigil (D-Fort Garland) of Morse’s liability proposal.
But Harris – a constituent of Morse – says for him at least, the recall effort is about a lot more than guns.
“We are working to recall Morse for many reasons. Legislation he has pushed has caused the state to lose hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue,” said Harris. “And yes, his stance on defining an assault weapon as any semi-automatic or lever-action rifle is ludicrous,” Harris says.
But some on the far left have characterized the recall as a shadowy out-of-state conspiracy, with at least one pro-Morse group going so far as to produce a “public awareness alert” – designed to sound like an official public safety announcement – warning voters that recall petition circulators are dangerous sexual predators or identity thieves.
Harris bristles at the suggestion that recall backers are part of an out-of-state plot.
“I started this recall effort because I am a constituent of John Morse and he refuses to listen to my emails, he changes senate rules so that I cannot testify on important legislation,” Harris told The Observer. “He is supposed to represent the interest of his constituents, not the desires of his financial backers like [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg who lives in New York.”
As for the robocall suggesting that recall supporters are criminals, Harris says he isn’t surprised.
“This just shows the level of desperation on the part of Morse,” Harris says. “He’s scared. He knows he’s in trouble. Why else would you insinuate something like that? It’s typical politics.”
Laura Carno, an El Paso County resident and head of the non-partisan women’s group I Am Created Equal, also dismissed the attacks.
“It’s funny to hear [the ‘out-of-state’ attack] from the side funded by the billionaire Mayor of New York [Michael Bloomberg],” Carno told The Observer.
Like Harris, Carno admits that unseating the most powerful Senator in the State Legislature will be an uphill battle, but says she backs the locally-driven effort.
“Recalls are tough, but there have been successes,” said Carno. “We need to send a message to politicians that you can’t get away with doing this to the citizens.”
Senator Morse’s office did not respond to a request for comment.