Colorado Democrats await dates for recall elections over gun control votes

FILE:  This image shows Colorado Democratic State Senate President John Morse, left, and state Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo.

FILE: This image shows Colorado Democratic State Senate President John Morse, left, and state Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo.  (AP)

Two Colorado Democrats targeted for recall elections for supporting the state's new gun control laws were pursuing legal challenges to avoid going back to the ballot this year after failing to have the recall efforts thrown out.

Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, on Tuesday failed in her effort to have the recall petition against her thrown out because it was improperly worded. Democratic Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs lost an identical argument last week.

Both senators are being targeted for recalls because of their support for new gun control laws, especially an ammunition magazine limit and a measure expanding background checks. Opponents say the gun controls violate Second Amendment rights.

KDVR.com reported that Democratic lawyer Mark Grueskin filed a lawsuit Tuesday appealing the Morse decision, arguing that the petition should be thrown out because it failed to include language informing signers that a recall election would be held to appoint a successor.

"A petition form must inform unsophisticated as well as sophisticated voters who are considering whether or not to sign the petition," Grueskin argued in his appeal. An appeal from Giron supporters was imminent.

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said in both decisions that recall elections are "a fundamental right" and that the petition questions were enough to meet the legal threshold for valid recalls.

Unless a judge steps in, the senators would face recall elections between early August and early September — the first legislative recalls in Colorado history. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper must set the date. 

The special election must be held within 60 days of Hickenlooper receiving certification paperwork on the recall petitions from the secretary of state, which was submitted Monday, according to The Denver Post.

"Every day of delay in setting the election restricts the voting opportunities of Colorado citizens,"  Wayne Williams, the Republican El Paso county clerk and recorder, told the newspaper.

A spokeswoman for Hickenlooper said this week that the governor's office is consulting with local officials about the best date for recalls. Sources told KDVR.com that a possible date has already been determined.

In El Paso County, Republicans chose former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin in a nonbinding straw poll Tuesday to challenge Morse if that recall election is held.

The gun controls sparked intense opposition during this year's legislative session, and they've brought election-year intensity to a typically ho-hum time of year in Colorado politics. A lawsuit brought by a majority of Colorado sheriffs opposed to the gun controls was due for a court hearing Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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