06/03/2013 10:25 am ET Updated Jun 03, 2013

John Morse Recall: Colorado Senate President Faces Recall Over Support Of New Gun Control Laws


An effort to recall Colorado Senate President John Morse over his support for sweeping new gun control measures comes to a head Monday as more than 7,000 signatures are due to the secretary of state's office to force the recall election.

But The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports that some of the rhetoric petition circulators are telling people may not be entirely accurate. Carol Hoffman, a supporter of Morse who contacted The Denver Post and lives in his district in Colorado Springs, says that some volunteers are falsely saying things to simply incite angry gun owners including that Morse is trying to invalidate Colorado's Make My Day law.

Toward the end of May, other supporters of Morse released a video of a petition gatherer insisting that Morse was again drafting legislation that would hold manufacturers and sellers of assault rifles legally liable for harm inflicted by the weapon -- a measure that Morse did back earlier in 2013, but did not pass in the statehouse.

According to the Gazette, since the recall effort was started, it has felt like election season for Morse's district with signature gatherers, radio ads, robocalls, polls and a total of almost $40,000 raised for both supporters and opponents of Morse.

The Associated Press reported that the National Rifle Association also got involved and sent a political mailer saying it was coordinating the recall effort with local groups, however local recall petitioners denied that the NRA was involved in any way.

Sen. Morse was recently even asked to sign the petition to recall himself at a local supermarket, 9News reported. "I said no, really, I am John Morse. And I pulled out my wallet and showed my driver's license so that he could see that I wasn't making it up," Morse said.

Morse told KDVR that he understands that his recall is only partially about him, and that it's also symbolic. "It's a litmus test," Morse said and added that he believes the success or failure of the recall effort will be interpreted as a referendum on gun control. “There doesn’t seem to be any question that money’s coming from outside the state to say, look, if you do this, we can take out the Senate president -- we can take out anyone across the entire country if you decide to implement common-sense gun legislation.”

If Morse's opponents do gather enough signatures and the recall effort does go to ballot, the odds are still stacked against them that the recall will succeed. Via the AP:

Immediate accountability seems to be a common thread in recall attempts, said Joshua Spivak, who tracks recall elections nationwide at the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College in New York. Technology makes it easier to organize, Spivak said, and modern-day voters watching political activity in real time on Twitter and TV aren't content to wait until another election to show their displeasure when they feel ignored.

Spivak said at least 169 officials at all levels of government faced recalls last year, up from 151 the year before. The number this year could go even higher, he said.

Technology isn't the only explanation.

"The other reason," Spivak said, "is that they succeed."

Most recalls actually fail, as in the case last year of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who survived a recall election after attacking collective bargaining rights for state employees. But compared with re-election campaigns, when incumbents face up to 75 percent likelihood of winning, Spivak said recall elections have a much lower rate of success for incumbents.

In Colorado last year, seven recall efforts made it to ballots, all local races, Spivak said. Of those seven, two officials were ousted and two more resigned.

But they don't always fail. Last year, nationwide, 108 recalled officials lost or left office a recall making the effort a powerful tool for opponents of lawmakers.



Pivotal Moments In The Federal Gun Control Debate