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Sen. John Morse recalled: First Colorado legislative recall

Colorado history is made today as recall organizers file over 16,000 signatures. Photo: Sen. John Morse
Monday, June 3, 2013 - Red Pill, Blue Pill by Al Maurer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., June 3, 2013 — Petition signatures filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office are more than sufficient to recall state senator John Morse (D). The recall is the first recall of a Colorado legislator in the state’s history.

The Recall Morse committee filed over 16,000 signatures, more than double the required number.

SEE RELATED: Recalls of Colorado anti-Second Amendment senators heat up

In his position as the senate president this past session, Morse coordinated the passage of anti-Second Amendment bills over massive citizen opposition.

The recall is not official until the Secretary of State’s office certifies that there are at least 7,178 valid signatures, or 25 percent of the number of ballots cast in the election that Morse won in 2010. Organizers of the recall effort are confident that they have more than enough signatures to withstand scrutiny.

Although the number of signatures invalidated varies, organizers of petition drives in Colorado usually aim for one-third more than the required minimum number, making the challenge of recall that much harder. The recall committee absolutely knocked it out of the park despite the odds.

The Recall Morse effort was 100 percent grassroots.

SEE RELATED: Recalls underway for Colorado Democrats: 1st Amendment is not absolute

Rob Harris, the leader of the effort, has never been involved in politics before. What got him involved was Morse’s dismissive attitude towards an email he sent Morse about gun control laws. “He said it was abusive,” Harris says, “which it wasn’t.”

Refusal to listen to his constituents is par for the course for Morse, who on national television described how he counseled fellow senators to ignore their constituents’ email and calls and vote for the gun control bills.

That arrogant attitude was cited more than any other by people signing the recall petition. A large number of people signing the petition said they had voted for Morse and wanted to fix their mistake.

“We want a representative, not a ruler,” Harris said. “Morse has tried to be a ruler and we’re firing him.”

SEE RELATED: Citizen-led petitions saved in Colorado

Harris wanted to make it clear that the recall effort, like the other three recalls going on in Colorado, was entirely a grassroots effort. The NRA didn’t sponsor the recall (although they did do one mailing on behalf the recall), nor did any organization with out-of-state money.

In state, no Colorado gun rights organization nor any political party backed the effort.

Politicians in Denver and Washington DC need to know that the majority of people involved in this effort have never been involved in politics before, said Harris. People were motivated and willing to put in 40-50 hours per week outside of their normal jobs to make sure their rights are protected.

The recall effort was barely on the radar of even local news organizations, so unlikely did it seem to them that it would succeed.

Harris is a project manager by profession and he put those skills to good use during the recall effort. Every weekend there was a drawing for prizes among those who turned in the most signatures which included 30-round Magpul magazines.

This, reported the Colorado Springs Gazette, had never been done before.

The grand prize, a Glock pistol, was awarded Sunday to former state representative Larry Liston, who has been very active in collecting signatures.

Ironically, Senate District 11 was gerrymandered specifically for someone like John Morse, carved out of conservative El Paso County to provide a senate seat for liberals. The district is unique, containing liberals, libertarians and conservatives in roughly equal portions. District voters, regardless of party affiliation, are very concerned about their civil rights.

The signature gathering effort was helped by the Morse camp.

An issue committee formed to support Morse, “A Whole Lotta People for John Morse,” made robo-calls suggesting the petition-gatherers were criminals and perverts. The effort was so outrageous that it created a backlash, doubling the recall signature count overnight. Morse people dogged signature gatherers, attempting to be confrontational and pick fights.

Harris’s trained volunteers didn’t take the bait.

Similar tactics are reportedly being used in Pueblo against those seeking signatures in the recall against Sen. Angela Giron. The Pueblo effort is also completely grassroots, being spearheaded by two plumbers who are brothers and union members. In Pueblo, as in Colorado Springs, Democrats concerned about lack of accountability to their constituents and their own Second Amendment rights are signing petitions in droves.

The Recall Morse effort was buoyed over the Memorial Day weekend by half a dozen volunteers from Denver. Undeterred by their failure to collect enough signatures to recall Sen. Evie Hudak, these people boosted the numbers and spirits of the Colorado Springs volunteers.

“We have a number of people who are going to drive down to Pueblo and help them out in their last weekend,” said Harris.

The Secretary of State’s office has 15 business days to validate the signatures. After that, the Morse camp has 15 calendar days to challenge the findings. With double the number required, the outcome is all but certain.

READ MORE from Al Maurer at Red Pill, Blue Pill

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Al Maurer

Al Maurer is a political scientist and founder of The Voice of Liberty. He writes on topics of limited government and individual rights.

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