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Morse Recall Setting up Potential National Gun Fight

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Democratic Senate President John Morse (credit: CBS)

Democratic Senate President John Morse (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Colorado State Senate President John Morse may very well become the very first Colorado lawmaker to face a recall election. Supporters of the recall effort turned in more than double the signatures necessary to qualify for the recall election. While the signatures need to be verified, and may be challenged, it’s likely the recall election will move forward

If and when it does, the recall election may become a national focus of gun control advocates and gun control opponents. Both sides will be represented by well funded national organizations and will bring a “battleground state” like atmosphere to the Colorado Springs community.

Both sides of the gun control issue realize what this potential fight may mean to future efforts to move forward with gun control legislation in other states. If Sen. Morse can be successfully removed, it will serve as an effective warning to other Democrats in competitive districts across the nation that if they take a bold lead on gun issues, they may find themselves in a similar predicament.

Admittedly, before I knew much about recall elections, I figured that it was a longshot that Sen. Morse could be recalled and replaced by another candidate. It’s one thing to collect signatures, but it’s an entirely different thing to run another candidate as opposition.

However, once I did a little bit of research, I realized that Sen. Morse is in a more precarious position than I initially thought. While currently serving his second term representing the 11th Senate district, he only won re-election in 2010 by 340 votes out of over 28,000 votes cast. With the Libertarian in the race pulling over 1300 votes, it’s clear that Morse is in a competitive district. Also, of the four state lawmakers in American history to face recall elections, three were recalled. The odds may not be with him on this one.

On the other hand, if a recall election is to occur, it will have very little to do with politics and everything to do with attitudes about gun control. The race will come down to voters deciding if Sen. Morse should be punished for his stance on gun control or if he should be commended.

Since he represents a competitive district, attitudes on gun control will be difficult to nail down. If the district were entirely conservative, he wouldn’t be currently serving his second term. However, being Colorado Springs, a more conservative stance on the issue is far more probable than not.

Finally, if and when the recall election campaign begins, local politics simply may not matter. With the NRA on one side and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the other, details about local politics are superfluous. You would like to think since gun control is simply one of myriad issues that state lawmakers must cover, electing your State Senator should come down to more issues than just one. But in this case, all other issues will take a distant back seat in the potential recall election.

I think most people thought that the political battles resulting from the gun control debates this year would actually occur in the 2014 election. But if the recall election of Sen. John Morse becomes a reality, that fight will happen far sooner, and will be far louder than anyone initially figured.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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