DENVER–The campaign to recall Senate President John Morse turned in stacks of petitions Monday morning to the Colorado Secretary of State in what is poised to become a national referendum on gun rights.
Organizers of the recall committee, Recall Senator John Morse, said they submitted in excess of 16,000 signatures, far more than the 7,178 needed to force a recall election and more than the 13,866 votes received by the Colorado Springs Democrat in the 2010 election.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said organizer Paul Paradis, owner of Paradise Sales in Colorado Springs. “You think he might have ticked off some of his constituents?”
Morse became a recall target in March after he introduced and supported strict gun-control legislation in the aftermath of mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn. Foes of the legislation argued that the measures penalize law-abiding gun owners without deterring crime.
“Today is the historic day that We the People tell Senator Morse, his cohorts in Denver, his backers in New York, and those watching in DC that we want a representative, not a ruler,” said a Monday post on the Facebook page Recall Senator John Morse.
The Wasington-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee blasted the recall effort in a statement Monday, describing organizers as “extremists in Colorado who want to waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.”
“The DLCC is committed to making sure that public servants like Senator Morse, who have stood up for their communities in the face of powerful special interests, are not intimidated by radical groups who distort his record of improving the lives of Coloradans and making the communities in his district safer,” said the Democratic statement.
The Secretary of State’s office has 15 days to verify the signatures, but if the threshold is met, the governor would be charged with calling a special election or placing the recall on the November ballot.
A second recall effort aimed at state Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) has until Monday, June 10, to submit 11,285 signatures. Efforts to recall two other Democrats fizzled early in the signature-gathering process.
The pro-Morse campaign, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, responded Monday with a Twitter rally, asking supporters of the Colorado Springs Democrat to post tweets at #couragetoact.
“Colorado’s Senate President John Morse–the very definition of courage and conviction,” said a tweet posted Monday by Colorado Ceasefire.
Most observers expect the Morse recall to meet the signature threshold, but speculation is that Democrats may try to circumvent the election by convincing Morse to resign, then replacing him with another Colorado Springs Democrat.
If the election does proceed, analysts expect millions of dollars to pour in from out of state from anti-gun groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association.
“It does look increasingly like Morse is going to be fighting for his political life, and Morse is almost a bit player in all this,” said Denver analyst Floyd Ciruli. “It’s going to be national behemoths squaring off against each other in the form of Bloomberg and the NRA.”