COLO. SPRINGS – Setting historical precedent, voters ousted Senate President John Morse in the special election Tuesday – to the Democrat lawmaker’s visible shock.
“Obviously this is a disappointment and I am disappointed in the process completely,” Morse told reporters at his election party in Wyndam’s Mining Exchange hotel.
“Pueblo had twice the (voter) turnout and it’s the same size senate district as mine,” said Morse, referring to the recall election of his colleague Democrat Sen. Angela Giron in Senate District 3. “We didn’t have polling open and hours when people could really go vote so there were very few votes cast as a result,” complained Morse.
Apparently Morse was unaware that Giron’s defeat was greater than his – 56 percent for her recall to 44 percent against it. In Senate District 11, 51 percent voted for the recall of Morse and 49 percent voted against it.
“Our last session was phenomenal!” exclaimed Morse in his concession speech. “And the next session will be even better. The loss of this seat for the next 16 months is purely symbolic.”
SD11 voters elected Republican Bernie Herpin to replace Morse in the Senate; and SD 3 voters chose Republican George Rivera to replace Giron.
Both Pueblo and El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s offices were hamstrung by a series of legal challenges to the recall election, most filed by Democrats. But SD 11 ballots couldn’t be printed because Libertarian candidate Jan Brooks, whose petitions fell short of making the ballot, had several days to file a challenge. Brooks instead was a write-in candidate.
Across town in the Stargazer Theater, cheers went up Tuesday night shortly after 9 p.m. when Morse’s concession speech was heard by members of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, which organized the Democrat lawmaker’s recall, and their supporters.
“I think people are sort of stunned by this probably on both sides of the aisle,” said Sen. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs) who celebrated with the Morse recall organizers at Stargazers.
“This was not a recall put on by the Republican Party,” Lambert told listeners of KVOR’s Richard Randall show. “It was put on by Republicans, Democrats and independents… (who) were sick and tired of having their rights violated.”
“The people spoke and the people were heard that politicians need to listen to their constituents,” said Laura Carno of I Am Created Equal which helped fund the recall petition drive.
“Thank you for supporting the recall and giving me the chance to serve you,” Herpin told supporters celebrating at the El Paso County GOP headquarters.”Thank you for standing up for yourselves and demanding to be heard.”
“By your vote, you have sent a loud and clear message that we will no longer tolerate elected officials who refuse to listen to their constituents and trample on our rights. The people have spoken,” declared Senator-elect Herpin as the crowd repeatedly cheered.
“I will serve you with honor. I will respect your rights. I will listen and respond,” said Herpin, a former Colorado Springs City Councilman and retired military officer.
The recall effort was launched after Morse spearheaded an effort to ram seven gun-control bills through the legislature – and refused to listen to constituents who opposed the erosion of their 2nd Amendment rights.
Morse said that he’d advised fellow Democrat senators to ignore voters’ emails, phone calls and letters in opposition to the restrictive gun-control measures during an MSNBC interview. He called the communications “vile” and “tedious” and toxic.
“Coloradans in Senate District 11 sent a clear message that politicians who blatantly ignore their constituents will be held accountable,” said Dustin Zvonek, Colorado State Director of Americans for Prosperity.
Zvonek said that the recalls “will serve as a lesson that one-party rule in Denver doesn’t give the majority license to take things to extremes and run roughshod over the values and rights of Coloradans who just happen, for the moment, to be in the minority.”
“These recall elections truly are historic moments when average citizens rose up, against all odds, and in David versus Goliath fashion slayed the dragon,” said Jeff Crank, political consultant and KVOR Talk Show host.
“Outspent 8-1 by out-of-state interest who wouldn’t know the truth if it hit them in the face, this rag-tag bunch of patriots performed the impossible,” said Crank.
The odds were against the recall backers who raised about $500,000 compared to more than $3 million amassed by the defense campaigns of Morse and Giron.
“It’s kind of a Paul Revere moment,” said Crank.