Recall elections against Morse, Giron set for Sept. 10 after judge dismisses protest

Posted on: 1:51 pm, July 18, 2013, by , updated on: 09:45pm, July 18, 2013

DENVER –The first two recall elections against Colorado lawmakers in the state’s history are going to happen on Sept. 10.

Just an hour after a judge ruled that recall elections against two Democratic lawmakers can move forward, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Thursday scheduling the elections.

Roughly an hour that, both lawmakers being targeted announced that they would not be appealing Thursday’s ruling by Denver District Judge Robert Hyatt that the petitions seeking to remove Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo are valid.

The petitions, which did not include language about voters having to pick the successor in a recall election, “substantially complied with the template provided to the recall organizers by the Secretary of State and with the statutes outlined in the state constitution,” Hyatt concluded.

Hyatt also denied a Writ of Mandamus requested by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to force Gov. John Hickenlooper to set a date for the two recall elections.

Gessler had contended that Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was required to act following his office’s certification of the recall petitions on July 5; however, Hyatt said that the governor acted correctly by waiting for him to rule on the validity of the petitions.

“As of today’s date, the meter begins to run,” Hyatt informed all sides, referring to the 60-day window from petition certification to when an election must take place.

Just about 4:45 p.m., Morse and Giron issued a joint press release announcing that they would not appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, as attorney Mark Grueskin hinted he might outside the courtroom earlier.

“We now have two different opinions on this,” said Mark Grueskin, the attorney representing Morse and Giron, referring to Hyatt’s ruling and an 11-year-old appeals court ruling on which his argument, that the successor language is required, is based.

“It might make sense for us to have a tie-breaker.”

Second Amendment group Basic Freedoms Defense Fund has led the charge against Morse. The group’s spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns claimed earlier this month that Morse’s team was intimidating people who signed petitions for his recall.

“It’s time for Sen. Morse to listen to the will of the people and step aside and stop delaying this process,” Kerns said after the ruling was read from the bench.

Meanwhile, Morse supporters have questioned the validity of the petitions and the methods used to gather signatures. At least 50 people who apparently signed petitions to recall Morse for his support of gun control legislation have now signed affidavits saying that they, in fact, never actually signed a recall petition themselves.

Kjersten Forseth, who served as Morse’s chief of staff at the Capitol this year and is now advising his campaign team, told reporters after the decision that he will not resign his seat once the recall election date is set.

“He’s proud of his record and what he did this year,” she said.

The press release announcing that Morse and Giron would forgo their final possible appeal also included statements from both lawmakers.

“I am ready and eager for the September 10th election,” Giron said. “This last legislative session was my best yet and this is a great opportunity to continue talking to folks in Pueblo about all our successes. In the meantime, I continue to work hard and represent Pueblo.”

Morse added: “I started working for this community as a EMT, paramedic or police officer in 1977. I have dedicated my life to public service. I look forward to this election. I have already been elected twice, I am excited by the prospect of being elected a third time.”

On July 3, an attorney representing Morse and Giron asked Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert to recuse herself from the recall debate because her boss, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, advised Pueblo Republicans on how to wage a successful recall against Giron.

Staiert subsequently dismissed the request.