Published: June 2, 2013
The people behind the recall effort of Senate President John Morse know they can't win.
In 2006 Morse, a Democrat, won in a landslide over Republican incumbent Ed Jones. And while Republican candidates in other areas of town routinely enjoy 50 percent margins over their rivals, the same neighborhoods that elected Morse also chose Democrats Pete Lee and Tony Exum. One has to believe that the voters in these districts are electing candidates with progressive values - like a commitment to gun safety - on purpose.
Even if the recall organizers do manage the 7,000-plus valid signatures necessary to force a special election, it's probable that Morse would prevail again. Meanwhile, in the act of validating the signatures and organizing the election, the county clerk will have spent upwards of $150,000 of our county tax money, which could have gone toward something nice like park improvements or road repairs.
To the outside donors helping fund the recall campaign, it hardly matters what the voters of Senate District 11 want, or how much it costs the people of El Paso County. It doesn't even matter that term-limited Senate President Morse will likely be back to serve his final 120 days in the 2014 session. What matters is whether the mere threat of a recall will serve to intimidate legislators in other states from voting for the gun safety legislation that a majority of Americans desire.
For that reason, one hopes that Morse isn't an anomaly among legislators. "I did exactly what the people asked me to," he told me Wednesday. "I put leadership ahead of politics." We can only hope that others will do the same. If they all did that all the time, maybe Washington wouldn't be gridlocked and we could focus on fixing problems rather than complaining about them.
In any event, the voters of Senate District 11 would do well to remember this: John Morse may be an irredeemable lefty, but he's our irredeemable lefty. As the Senate President, he is the third most powerful person in state politics. He has tremendous influence over the laws that affect us and where money gets spent.
Perhaps just as importantly, Senate President Morse has a seat at the table in the high level meetings and in the delegation chosen to woo prospective businesses as part of the state's economic development program. "I have never missed an opportunity to promote Colorado Springs," Morse says. A freshman Republican would never even get the chance.
That uniquely positioned voice for Colorado Springs is one of the many intangible benefits of keeping John Morse. We need a member in the majority. With John Morse, we have a member, not only in the majority, but in leadership.
The likeliest outcome is that John Morse emerges from this drama unscathed and the special interests bent on ousting him will have lost. Otherwise, we replace our majority party leader with a minority party freshman, gun control laws stay in place and we all will have lost - time, money, effort and our voice.
Laura Long is a PR professional and government relations specialist who lives in Colorado Springs.