DENVER—The two Colorado recall campaigns defeated legal challenges Wednesday, but opponents of Democratic state Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse can’t relax just yet. The next stop on the recall campaign trail is Denver District Court, where Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin is expected to appeal the Wednesday’s decisions by Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.
“We’re going to court,” said Grueskin in the Pueblo Chieftain.
Staiert rejected a protest filed by a Morse constituent contending that the petitions were invalid because they neglected to include a demand for elections to replace the lawmakers. An identical challenge was filed by a Giron constituent, and although Staiert has not ruled on the protest, she is expected to reach the same decision next week.
“[I]t is inherent in the word ‘recall,’ and in the act of filing a recall petition, that the eligible electors demand the election of a successor,” said Staiert in her ruling.
Staiert also turned down requests to recuse herself from the cases. In a last-minute protest filed Wednesday, Grueskin asked Staiert to step down from ruling on the Giron and Morse protests because Secretary of State Scott Gessler made comments on recall efforts March 12 at a Republican Party event in Pueblo.
In her decision, Staiert said she played no role in the remarks made by Gessler and therefore it was unnecessary for her to recuse herself.
What’s more, she said, Gessler’s comments centered on the recall process, not on the specifics of the Giron recall. Even Grueskin said in his protest that “the Secretary was not a cheerleader in the effort to recall Giron,” she noted.
“The Secretary’s remarks were limited to the recall process in general,” said Staiert. “The Secretary of State is Colorado’s chief elections official, and as such is the most qualified person to speak about such a process. In fact, it could be argued that it is his affirmative duty to do so.”
Gessler was quoted in the Pueblo Chieftain as saying that, “A recall election is so brutal you need to have your ducks in a row” and “You don’t want to wait until the clock’s started to get organized.”
Last month, the Secretary of State’s office deemed sufficient the signature-gathering drives of both recall efforts. Both the Giron and Morse anti-recall campaigns have since sought to peel off signers by asking them to remove their names from the petitions.
Barring a court injunction, Gessler’s office will now formally notify Gov. John Hickenlooper that a special election must be scheduled for Morse no sooner than 45 days but no later than 75 days. Gessler would make the same notification on behalf of the Giron recall after Tuesday.
Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for the Morse recall, called on the Senate President to “face his fate at the ballot box.”
“Now that this frivolous legal challenge has been deemed meritless, we call upon Senator Morse to drop all further challenges to this Recall which is a fundamental right of Coloradans,” said Kerns. “Any further legal challenge will be yet another attempt to delay and deny justice to his own constituents.”