DENVER—Gov. John Hickenlooper set Sept. 10 as the date for a recall election after a Denver judge rejected Thursday a lawsuit challenging the effort to oust two Democratic state senators.
Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt said the recall may proceed, ruling that the right to recall officeholders outweighed objections brought by attorneys representing constituents for Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and state Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo).
“The liberal construction required of recall statutes weighs against rejecting recall petitions on hyper-technical grounds,” said Hyatt, ruling from the bench after Wednesday’s full day of testimony, in the Gazette.
The judge rejected a motion by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to compel the governor to set an election date, but shortly thereafter, Hickenlooper selected Sept. 10 for both the Giron and Morse recall elections.
Would-be candidates for both races have until July 29 to submit 1,000 valid signatures from registered voters to earn a spot on the ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Mark Grueskin, attorney for the Morse and Giron constituents challenging the validity of the recall petitions, told KDVR-TV that he may appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.
“We now have two different opinions on this,” said Grueskin, referring to Hyatt’s ruling and a previous appeals court decision. “It might make sense for us to have a tie-breaker.”
Even so, recall supporters were jubilant. “I’m really, really happy, obviously,” said Victor Head, president of Pueblo Freedom and Rights, which organized the Giron recall.
“It all went in our favor. As unbiased as I can get, it was a ruling for the people,” said Head. “He ruled with the people instead of with the lawyers and the bureaucrats.”
Giron announced in a Facebook post Thursday that she’s prepared to take on the challenge of a recall election. So far retired Pueblo Deputy Police Chief George Rivera has said that he plans to run against her on the recall ballot.
“Yes, I’m aware of Chief District Judge Hyatt’s ruling and I’m READY!” said Giron. “This last session was my most successful yet and I’ll continue to talk with SD3 residents about our successes. Whether it’s an election in September or next year, I’m ready!!! Are you with me?”
El Paso County Republicans selected former Colorado Springs city councilman Bernie Herpin to run against Morse in a vote of precinct chairs and other officials.
Grueskin had argued that the recall petitions were invalid because they failed to call for an election to replace the legislators, but Hyatt said that wasn’t enough to nullify the recall process.
“[T]he court gives great weight to the fact that the proponents for the recalls unquestionably made a good faith effort to comply with all aspects of Colorado Law regarding recalls,” said Hyatt.
Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert ruled earlier this month against protests filed on behalf of Giron and Morse two constituents.