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Morse: ‘I’m in until the bitter end’

Senate President John Morse announces Democrats' gun control proposals at the Capitol in February.

Senate President John Morse announces Democrats' gun control proposals at the Capitol in February.

DENVER — Senate President John Morse, who may be facing a recall election in Colorado Springs later this year, says he will not resign his seat early.

“I am in now until the bitter end,” Morse told FOX31 Denver Tuesday.

Conservative blogs have been suggesting that, should a recall election be set, that Morse would resign in order to avoid it, enabling a vacancy committee to install former Democratic state Rep. Michael Merrifield to finish out the final year of Morse’s term.

Over the weekend, radio host Jeff Crank told listeners that a high-level Democratic memo outlines such a strategy.

Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio laughed off the idea on Monday.

“They’re making it up,” Palacio told FOX31 Denver. “There is no memo that exists; and it’s not even a conversation that’s taking place. We’re focused on talking to people about the recall and encouraging them not to sign the petitions. If there is a recall, then we’ll be telling people about all the things Morse has accomplished.”

Palacio did acknowledge that the two-part recall election could involve Merrifield.

If an election is set, the first question would be whether or not to recall Morse; the second question would be who to replace him with.

Merrifield, who has already filed papers to run for Morse’s seat next year, would likely be listed as a possible replacement on that recall ballot.

“It’s only logical,” Palacio said. “He’s already filed.”

Another Democrat vying for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 11, Mike Maday, would not be on the recall ballot because he hasn’t lived in the district long enough, Palacio said.

Conservatives have noted the irony of Merrifield, who served as state director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, replacing Morse, who led the Democratic push to pass the new gun control laws motivating detractors to mount the recall push.

“It just shows that the people pushing the recall didn’t really think this through,” Palacio said. “If they really gamed this out, they’d have realized that this is a possibility.”

Laura Carno, whose group, I Am Created Equal, is helping fund the recall effort, noted the irony but told FOX31 Denver that Merrifield won’t be the only option to replace Morse in a recall election.

“It’s not an oops, because the recall folks want someone who is pro-gun,” Carno said. “That would be whoever the Republicans put forward.”

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call wouldn’t divulge the names of Republicans considering a run at Morse.

“I think our chances are looking pretty good about bringing in a fresh face for that race,” Call told FOX31 Denver Tuesday. “The role of state Party and the El Paso County GOP will be trying to find one Republican candidate we can all get behind.”

Of course, Call isn’t taking Morse at his word that he’ll fight the recall to the end; rather, Call believes, Morse won’t get to make that call.

“I’m sure Bloomberg’s group will do a poll and find out how vulnerable Morse really is,” Call said. “And if he’s vulnerable, they’re going to knuckle him down and say, ‘we can’t afford to lose this because it will undermine our agenda around the country’.”

“At the end of the day, he’ll bend to those political masters if they believe they’re better off with him resigning,” Call said.