Months of political infighting will come to a head in central Colorado Springs and Pueblo on Sept. 10 when voters will decide whether to keep their senators in office or toss them out in favor of replacements.
Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron found themselves at the center of a battle over gun rights after they supported legislation during the 2013 session that banned high-capacity magazines and required background checks on all gun sales.
After a Denver district judge ruled Thursday that thousands of signatures gathered to force a recall election of the two Democrats were valid, Gov. John Hickenlooper set the election dates for both in mid-September.
Giron and Morse announced Thursday there will be no appeal of the decision, making them the first state-level elected officials to face a recall election.
"I have dedicated my life to public service. I look forward to this election," Morse said in a statement. "I have already been elected twice, I am excited by the prospect of being elected a third time."
For now, the manager of Morse's campaign said he will begin reaching out to voters and prepping for the election.
"It's going to require a lot of outreach on the part of the campaign and a lot less focus on what he's going to do in 2014, so in a way it's unfortunate," said Kjersten Forseth, Morse's chief of staff who is now running his and Giron's campaigns.
Forseth said it's unfortunate that a special-interest group is able to use recall elections to influence the legislative process.
But the group that collected more than 10,000 valid signatures to remove Morse from office says it is a grass-roots organization of constituents exercising their constitutional right to remove an elected official from office.
Morse has represented Senate District 11 for seven years, and the 2014 legislative session would be his last before he reached term limits. The recall election - if successful - would cut only a few months off his final term.
Giron has served four years in office and could run for another term in 2014.
A Republican candidate has lined up to appear on the recall ballots for both Morse and Giron.
The ballot will first ask if the candidates should be removed from office, and then a second question will ask, if so, which of the following candidates should replace them.
No Democrats have filed against the incumbents.
But the second part of the ballot played prominently in the legal challenges supporters of Giron and Morse filed.
Attorney Mark Grueskin argued on their behalf that the petitions circulated to demand a recall election didn't include language informing voters a replacement would also be elected.
Hyatt ruled Thursday that the constitution didn't require that language and even if it did, the election would still be held.
"The court specifically finds that the recall process involves fundamental rights of a republican form of government which the people have reserved unto themselves," Hyatt said, citing a Supreme Court ruling. "A public interest is not served by endless delay of conducting recall elections inconsistent with the statutory framework."
Hyatt said the clock for setting an election date began ticking Thursday.
The county clerks from both El Paso and Pueblo counties requested the election date by Sept. 10, and Hickenlooper agreed.
Contact Megan Schrader