Morse Recall Effort Rife with Wild Rumors

Is NRA behind local recall? Will Morse be forced to resign? Is former Rep. Mike Merrifield plotting an early comeback? Will Peyton Manning lead the Broncos to the Superbowl?

A recall effort in Senate District 11 in Colorado Springs has become less of a discussion on Democratic incumbent John Morse and more of a conversation on the power of the National Rifle Association and political strategizing.

What started as frustration with the Senate president’s support of controversial firearms control measures has turned into a chess match in which Morse’s supporters and opponents are gunning for the best campaign strategy.

On one side of the fence is the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee, an issue committee established to oust Morse. On the other side is A Whole Lot of People For John Morse, the issue committee created to protect Morse’s seat.

Recall supporters must collect 7,178 signatures, or 25 percent of the 2010 vote in the district, by June 3. If that happens, then Gov. John Hickenlooper would be required to put the issue on the ballot during a 30-day timeframe that kicks off 45 days after signatures are verified.

Signature gatherers would not disclose how many signatures they have collected, but they are confident that they are on track to force a recall election. Conservative Colorado Springs group I Am Created Equal — run by Republican campaign operative Laura Carno — donated $14,294 to El Paso Freedom Defense Committee to pay Kennedy Enterprises for petition gathering.

Assuming the signatures are sufficient, the election itself would be two-part. First it would include a “yes” or “no” question on whether to recall Morse. Then it would contain a list of candidates to replace the Senate president.

Republicans have been tightlipped about who they are considering for the job, but multiple sources have acknowledged that the party has its eye on El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark and former Rep. Mark Barker.

Clark told The Colorado Statesman that she is adamant that she does not want the job at this time.

“I’m focused on my constituents and my work as a county commissioner,” she said of the suggestion, while acknowledging that it is something she had been considering after word spread that she was a potential candidate.

Barker did not return multiple requests for comment left by The Statesman to his personal phone number.

“Both are really good people with terrific track records of public service,” commented Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. “It will be up to them and up to the folks in El Paso County to decide who is the best candidate in the event that a recall election actually occurs.”

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