At a gathering of county Republicans inside a Pueblo public library in June, organizers behind the effort to recall Democratic Sen. Angela Giron met for the first time with the leader of Colorado’s GOP.
Furious that Giron had pushed for stricter gun laws, the group had collected signatures to force a special election and were just days away from having it certified by the secretary of state.
They were confident, but the private conversation with Chairman Ryan Call did not go well.
“He scoffed at us. He told us we didn’t have a shot at getting the recall signatures certified and that what we were doing was just wrong,” said Victor Head, a Republican and leader of the group, Pueblo Freedom and Rights, which took the initial steps to have Giron recalled. “He did not care to listen to what was going on with the grass roots in Pueblo, and that’s a problem with leadership in the Republican Party.”
The way Victor Head accomplished what may have forever changed how petitions are gathered — and what stunned Colorado’s political landscape this summer — originated with an iPhone and a 4-year-old voter law.
Those were the tools, along with a mix of tablets and laptops, the 28-year-old plumber from Pueblo and a little more than 80 organizers utilized as they scoured parking lots and sat perched at folding tables outside businesses collecting petition signatures to recall Sen. Angela Giron, a Pueblo Democrat, from a heavily Democratic- leaning district.
“From the smartphones, we had the secretary of state’s voter registration website locked in and at the ready,” Head said. “In 30 seconds, we were able to punch in a name, ZIP code and birth date and confirm that people signing were actually registered and lived in the district. We even registered some people that wanted to sign.”
The votes cast by state Sen. Angela Giron in support of tougher gun laws now have the Pueblo lawmaker faced with a looming fall election date as organizers Monday amassed enough valid signatures in their recall effort.
Only about 6 percent of the signatures submitted in Giron’s recall effort were deemed invalid by the Colorado secretary of state’s office — a striking percentage that her opponents said showed strong support for their cause.
Organizers with Pueblo Freedom and Rights submitted more than 13,400 signatures to the Colorado secretary of state’s office and had 12,648 verified. They needed about 11,300 verified for a recall election and outpaced that figure by about 1,300.
The effort to recall Colorado Senate President John Morse charged forward Tuesday with the secretary of state’s office announcing that organizers submitted more than enough valid signatures to produce the first-ever recall election of a lawmaker in the state.
Secretary of state officials said that organizers with the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee’s effort obtained 10,137 valid signatures from the roughly 16,200 signatures the group turned in earlier this month. To spark a recall, they needed just 7,178 verified, and they outpaced that figure by about 3,000 votes.
But supporters of Morse argued Tuesday the petition language used was incomplete and the recall effort should be set aside.
The legal team backing a supporter of Senate President John Morse on Thursday waged an aggressive attack against the petition process used to recall the state lawmaker.
With straightforward readings of the Colorado Constitution and even an opinion poll, attorneys stressed in a hearing before the secretary of state’s office that the recall effort of the Colorado Springs Democrat failed to meet the basics needed to remove him from office.
Mark Grueskin, who represents the Morse supporter who filed the contest, argued Thursday the constitution clearly outlines that petitions must note the election of a successor to the recalled official — something the petitions in the Morse recall did not do. Grueskin placed the burden on the proponents of the petition and not the secretary of state’s office, which by law is not allowed to offer legal advice.
EL PASO COUNTY — It’s rare to find a Democrat representing Senate District 11, especially in a part of the state where most of the surrounding Senate districts are Republican strongholds.
Even more rare — if not unprecedented — is a Democrat who not only won the seat, but then turned around and won re-election four years later.
But that’s exactly what John Morse did, in 2006 and 2010.
And now, Morse, who has since worked his way to becoming Senate president and is term-limited in 2014, appears on the cusp of a third election later this year.
Yet, it’s an election no incumbent politician wants to endure.
“Whether he wants it or not, I guarantee there’s going to be a recall election,” said Robert Harris, a member of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, which is spearheading a recall of Morse. The organization must gather 7,178 signatures from residents of the district before a June 3 deadline.
“People are going door-to-door. We have business owners with petitions at the ready if a person wants to sign it. We’re just ready,” he said.
The recall effort sprang from conservative anger at Morse and his party for passing gun-control measures.