COLO. SPRINGS – Republicans chose former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin to run for the Senate District 11 seat to replace Democrat Senate President John Morse, who is facing a recall.
Herpin and his Republican opponent Jaxine Bubis had signed an agreement to allow about 50 Republicans in SD 11, primarily precinct chairs, to elect a single candidate to run on the ballot to replace Morse.
The district is nearly evenly divided between Democrat, Republican and independent voters.
El Paso County GOP Chair Jeff Hays announced the vote shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Of the eligible Republican voters, 30 voted for Herpin and 18 for Bubis. As the crowd reacted with a mix of gasps and applause, Bubis walked across the room and congratulated Herpin.
“Tonight, Republicans took an important step to build a unified front to recall John Morse and stand up for Constitutional rights,” said Herpin in a statement.
“Whether it’s our freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of the press, right to bear and keep arms, or our states’ rights, every day we see liberal politicians like John Morse chipping away at our Constitutional rights,” said Herpin.
After the election results, Herpin and his campaign supporters celebrated at BJ’s Restaurant and Brew House in Colorado Springs, and began planning the next stage of the campaign – raising money and gathering the necessary petition signatures to put his name on the ballot.
More than 10,000 voters signed petitions to recall Morse – validated by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office — after the Democrat angered some constituents by promoting gun-control laws, thwarting testimony in public hearings and ignoring complaints.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams requested that Gov. John Hickenlooper set an Aug. 27 recall election date. But on Tuesday, Mark Grueskin, an attorney for a Morse supporter, appealed the decision of the Secretary of State’s office to uphold the recall petitions to a district court and asked for an injunction to halt the recall election.
Jaxine Bubis did not return calls for comment, but earlier told the Colorado Springs Gazette that she would support Herpin’s election bid.
A newcomer to politics, Bubis was attacked for having written nine romance novels with steamy sexual scenes under the pen name Jaxine Daniels. She said that was a chapter from her previous life left behind, but critics cited a Pikes Peak writers’ workshop blog where the author stated she was working on a tenth romance novel.
Herpin was also accused of not having fought for gun rights. But his supporters argued Herpin with Paul Paradis founded the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition, and El Paso County was one of the first jurisdictions in Colorado to issue concealed carry permits in 1995.
As of July 5, Herpin had raised $6,570 for his campaign, including $200 from House Minority Leader Mark Waller, $200 from Paradis and $100 from former Rep. Larry Liston. All had endorsed Herpin.
Bubis raised $6,360, most from contributors who gave $10 to $50 – and no contributions from her endorsers who included state Sens. Kent Lambert and Owen Hill, former state Sen. Dave Schultheis and Rep. Janak Joshi, all of Colorado Springs.
“As we move forward, I urge El Paso County Republicans to band together and focus on recalling John Morse,” said county GOP Chair Jeff Hays in a statement. “We’re talking about a legislator so extreme, so out-of-touch, that Rep. Ed Vigil (D-Fort Garland) called one of Morse’s bills… ‘crazy’ and ‘absolutely nuts.’”
Morse had sponsored a bill that would have made a manufacturer or owner of a weapon liable if it was used in a criminal act – even if it had been sold or stolen. Morse withdrew his bill, knowing it would not pass the Democrat-controlled legislature this year.
“Recalling John Morse is not a question of Democrat vs. Republican,” Hays said. “It’s a question of sanity vs. insanity.”