DENVER – Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron have switched from filing unsuccessful legal challenges to recruiting public support to vote against their recalls – unprecedented in Colorado’s history.
Democrats Morse of Colorado Springs and Giron of Pueblo launched campaigns to counter criticism that they have pursued an expansive liberal agenda of gun control, green energy, benefits for illegal immigrants and changes to election law that would allow same-day voting with no photo identification required.
Their push for gun control measures – despite constituents’ opposition – ignited recall efforts supported by Republican, Democrat and independent voters.
To counter the impression that the Democrat duo had refused to listen to voters in their Senate districts, Giron and Morse held back-to-back tele-townhall meetings Monday evening that screened callers and questions posed.
Both senators fielded questions about the bills to ban ammunition magazines in excess of 15 rounds, background checks for gun sales and exchanges, and eliminate online training and permits for concealed carry permits.
“I’m a Second Amendment supporter and I don’t think anything that we worked on, including concealed carry (permits), affected that amendment,” said Giron. “I feel like I voted what Pueblo’s values are.”
Of the gun-control measures that failed, Giron explained why she had voted to prohibit conceal-carry weapons on college campuses.
“With a heavy heart, I did vote to get (the bill) out of committee,” said Giron, chair of the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. But, Giron had also cut off public testimony in opposition to the bill.
During the committee hearing, Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) made condescending remarks to a rape victim who had testified against the concealed-carry ban. Hudak’s remarks were so callous that she was rebuked by national and local news media and became the target of a recall that failed.
The bill that requires background checks for all gun exchanges, Morse said “is a common sense approach” to ensure that weapons are not stolen, and buyers are not criminals or mentally ill.
“You can’t now go and buy a gun out of the trunk of somebody’s car without a background check,” said Morse. Background checks, Morse said, “are here for the duration. I don’t think they’re in any jeopardy.”
The lawsuit filed by a bipartisan group of 54 county sheriffs, Morse said “is just all politics. I don’t think that lawsuit is going to gain much traction.”
Morse did not mention his failed bill, the assault weapon responsibility act, which would have held manufacturers, sellers and individuals liable if their guns were used in a criminal act – even if they were stolen.
Morse’s proposal was so far-reaching that a fellow Democrat lawmaker referred to it as “crazy” and “absolutely nuts.”
“Ninety-five percent of the legislation we passed was with bipartisan support,” declared Giron, who added that the Colorado legislature “did a lot of good work” and wasn’t caught up in gridlock like Congress.
Morse said that seven of 10 bills that he passed had Republican cosponsors. He also sponsored three bills with Democrats that included a controversial subsidy for low-income families, driver’s licenses and ID cards for illegal immigrants and expanding the renewable energy mandate for rural electric providers and cooperatives. Those bills were also supported by Giron.
Morse was asked if he would consider resigning to save taxpayers an estimated $150,000 for the recall election.
“Absolutely not,” thundered Morse. “A recall is a way to nullify a prior election.”
“People in the 11th Senate district have already elected me to be their representative and there are certainly some folks who have gotten (petition) signatures to force a recall election,” said Morse. “But, I’m not going to abrogate my responsibilities to the people.”
The Secretary of State’s office certified more than 10,137 petition signatures to recall Morse and 12,648 to recall Giron. Despite appeals to reverse the decision, the certifications were upheld by a Denver district court judge and Gov. John Hickenlooper set a Sept. 10 recall election date.
This week, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse filed a criminal complaint with District Attorney Dan May’s office, alleging there are more than a thousand forged petition signatures. May said that he can’t comment on the complaint which is being investigated.