Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Colorado recall efforts grind into gear

By Megan Schrader Updated: July 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Richard Bamberg's phone has been ringing off the hook - not literally - but three calls last week and then four Thursday have made him a little jaded by the Senate District 11 recall effort.

It's just the beginning of what may be hectic days until the Sept. 10 recall election for Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.

"I asked to talk to their supervisor. I asked them to leave me alone," Bamberg said of the most recent caller who asked a few questions and then spoke for several minutes about positive things Morse has done as a lawmaker. "The thing I don't get is I'm not in Morse's district."

Christy Le Lait, campaign manager for A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, said the calls aren't coming from its campaign.

"It's not a poll from us, and I would be very surprised unless a number of voter records have his phone number that he actually got that many phone calls," Le Lait said. "It's always important when people get upset for them to realize all calls are based on the voter records."

So if a house has a number of residents registered to vote, or if previous residents never updated their registry, repeat calls may occur during the campaign.

That the calls weren't coming from the issue campaign set up to keep Morse in office highlights the fact that several outside parties and committees will be involved in this race on both sides, independently working to keep Morse in office or get him out.

Le Lait said she has heard a rumor that a tea party group has begun knocking on doors for the other side.

And in Pueblo, where District 3 Sen. Angela Giron faces a recall election on the same day, the reverse rumor is a union group is hitting the pavement. Neither claim could be verified, but there's plenty of speculation about who will enter the fray in the next two months.

"I would hazard a guess that the amount of money this campaign has to spend will be directly related to the amount of money the NRA starts putting into this," Le Lait said, alluding to the National Rifle Association.

Morse and Giron drew the ire of some constituents for their support of stricter gun control legislation that passed during the 2013 legislative session.

How many of their constituents will stand behind them will be seen Sept. 10 when voters in both senate districts will first vote yes or no to kicking the politician out of office, and then if they vote yes, they'll get to select a new senator.

Only Bernie Herpin, a Republican and former City Council member, will appear on the ballot opposing Morse. Herpin is active in the gun rights community.

"This election is about John Morse and the fact that Morse is such an extreme legislator," said Daniel Cole, spokesman for the El Paso County Republican Party. "The focus will be on making sure that everyone understands that John Morse is not representing the people of SD 11. He has a different agenda . the election is a recall election, and so the focus is going to be on why John Morse deserves to be recalled."

In addition to Herpin's campaign committee, which raised $6,570 in its first quarter, there will also be the El Paso Freedom Defense Fund campaigning to oust Morse.

The fund reported spending $10,000 between May 28 and June 26, and all of that money went to Kennedy Enterprises - the firm hired to collect signatures to force the election. That nearly emptied the group's coffers that quarter.

The Pueblo Freedom and Rights group had $10,284 remaining at the end of the last quarter. Victor Head, organizer of the group to oust Giron, said he expects to use yard signs and advertising to get the word out about the election.

"People, pretty well, their minds are made up," Head said. "They knew the recall had a good purpose behind it and was an efficient tool and it was used properly. I don't feel like we have to fight that hard. It's been really a good effort."

Head said he hasn't been contacted by outside groups wanting to fund his efforts to oust Giron, but he expects they will come eventually.

Le Lait and A Whole Lot of People for John Morse had about $33,000 in their coffers July 5.

"We're going to be talking about Sen. Morse's record and the great things that have happened in the seven years he's been in office," Le Lait said. "And why a recall for this reason does not help our district . it's bad precedent, and that's what we'll be talking about."

One thing is certain for Senate District 3 and Senate District 11: August will be dominated by the recall election.

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Contact Megan Schrader: 719-286-0644

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader

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