DENVER (AP) – Colorado Democrats targeted for recalls because of their support for gun control remained in limbo Tuesday, pursuing legal challenges to avoid going back to the ballot this year.
Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, 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.
The recall wrangling isn’t over, though. A Democratic lawyer filed a lawsuit Tuesday appealing the Morse decision, and an appeal from Giron supporters was imminent.
The two Democrats aren’t challenging that enough signatures were gathered to force the first legislative recalls in Colorado history. Instead, they’re challenging the petition format used by recall organizers.
The Democratic lawyer, Mark Grusekin, has argued that petition signers didn’t know exactly what they were signing. The petitions asked whether the lawmakers should be recalled, but didn’t ask whether an election should 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.
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. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper must set the date. A spokeswoman said this week that the governor’s office is consulting with local officials about the best date for recalls.
In El Paso County, Republicans were choosing a candidate to challenge Morse if that recall election is held. The party was holding a nonbinding straw poll, with the losing candidate agreeing to step aside to give the GOP choice a better chance to defeat Morse.
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.
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.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)