COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., July 18, 2013 — Democrat challenges to the two Colorado recall petitions failed in Denver District Court today, opening the way for the recall elections for senators John Morse and Angela Giron to proceed. Gov. Hickenlooper today set the election date for September 10.
Democrat lawyers for Morse and Giron appealed the Secretary of State’s decision to deny their complaint to district court Judge Bob Hyatt. The hearing yesterday was for both complaints, which were essentially identical. Lawyer Mark Grueskin contended that the wording of the recall petition did not include wording to the effect that the recall would be followed by an election to select a successor. Recall proponents argued that they followed both state law and recall wording as required by the Secretary of State’s office.
It was a long shot appeal. Democrats produced a pollster who claimed to have conducted a poll that proved voters in the district didn’t understand the process. Judge Hyatt said pollster Tom Jensen’s result “showing allegedly befuddled population” was “unconvincing.” The judge even went so far as to give the Democrats a dressing-down for hiring a pollster in their effort to block the recalls.
Attorney Grueskin has said previously that he might appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court. Judge Hyatt, in releasing his ruling today, advised that there was no likelihood of success for an appeal on the merits of case.
Following the ruling, Gov. Hickenlooper signed an executive order that sets the election date to September 10 for both recalls.
The governor was supposed to pick the date immediately following the Secretary of State’s notice of sufficiency back on July 3. There was no “stay” issued by the court for the protest so there was no reason for the governor’s inaction. Late last week Secretary of State Gessler sued to force the governor to do his duty; he was joined by El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams, who was eager to get prepared for the election which he had hoped would be held on August 27.
The recall ballot will be in two parts. The first part will ask whether Morse (or, in Pueblo, Giron) should be recalled. If greater than 50 percent of ballots are yes, then the candidate in the second part with the most votes is elected to fill the seat.
In El Paso County, Republicans nominated former city councilman Bernie Herpin to be on the ballot. There is no other candidate currently vying for the position. Democrat Mike Merrifield, who had been planning to run for the seat in 2014, has said that he will not run. John Morse, who had the option to resign last week, did not.
In Pueblo, it is not yet clear who will be on the ballot to fill the seat should Giron be recalled.
The impression of witnesses at the hearing yesterday was that the Morse camp tried to paint the voters of his district as stupid and easily confused. Somehow that doesn’t seem like the way to win votes and influence people.
Nor did it stop the recall.
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