Dems aim to re-focus recalls on GOP candidates, Personhood in new TV ad

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Bernie Herpin, left, and George Rivera are the Republican candidates vying to replace Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron, respectively, in recall elections on Sept. 10.

DENVER — Two Democratic state lawmakers will face historic recall elections in their districts next month because their constituents are upset they supported tougher gun control laws.

So, naturally, the Democratic strategy to help them survive focuses on another issue — Personhood and abortion rights.

A newly established 527 group, “We Can Do Better, Colorado”, is already out with a mailer attacking Republican Bernie Herpin, a former Colorado Springs councilman who is seeking to replace Democratic Senate President John Morse on the recall ballot, for his past support of Personhood.

And Colorado Springs residents are about to see television ads to that effect.

“What would you call someone who supports a ban on common forms of birth control? Interferes with our personal decisions?” a female narrator asks in the spots set to hit the airwaves in Colorado Springs and Pueblo starting Thursday.

“If the recall efforts succeed, we’ll be calling them our state senators,” the narrator continues. Say no to the recall. Say no to George Rivera and Bernie Herpin.”

The Herpin mailer, which hit voters' mailboxes last week, refers to his alleged support of the “personhood” movement, which seeks to ban abortion by granting full legal rights to fertilized human eggs.

Herpin told the Colorado Independent, a left-leaning news website, that he's never supported the Personhood movement.

But, in theory, Herpin does appear to support Personhood.

In April, Herpin filled out a survey for the group Citizens for Life, responding that he is pro-life and that his "stand on the sanctity of life" takes precedence over his party affiliation.

In response to the question "At what stage of development did we become persons? Single Cell (S), Birth (B), Other (O)?", Herpin marked "S" -- indicating he believes that Personhood begins at the moment of conception.

"Although I'm not connected to Herpin's campaign, this is not about Personhood," said Laura Carno, whose 510(c)4, I Am Created Equal, funded much of the petition gathering process in the Morse recall and remains active as the election nears.

"Sen. Morse is trying to distract voters from his agenda of gun laws that he knows won't make us safer, and his refusal to listen to his constituents with they wanted to be heard."

“It’s important for voters to know who stands with them on protecting women’s health and reproductive rights,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, in a press release earlier this week.

“Sen. Morse and Giron’s opponents both support “personhood,” which could outlaw many commonly used forms of contraception and puts politicians squarely between decisions best left to women, their families, and their doctors. Southern Coloradans should take a close look at these records when they are making decisions on who they want representing them."

Republican George Rivera, the candidate seeking to replace Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, in the other recall election on Sept. 10, is unabashedly in favor of personhood and tweeted last Friday that the mailers are a sign of desperation by Democrats.

But, to Democrats, this isn't all that different from any other elections; and they're going with the same strategy -- the so-called "Bennet Model" -- that's helped them win so many competitive races of late by appealing to women voters.

"There have been two consistent and central tenets of the Democratic playbook for most of the last two decades: 1) Energize female voters and maximize the gender gap; 2) Use perceived Republican extremism around various social issues to accomplish goal number one," said political analyst Eric Sondermann.

"That formula has worked well in many instances.  One of the more notable Colorado examples was Michael Bennet's come-from-behind victory over Ken Buck back in 2010. So it is no surprise that Democrats would pull out that playbook in these recall elections."

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