State Senator John Morse, a Democrat who spearheaded legislation tightening gun laws in Colorado, was recalled and replaced Tuesday in a close election that left him on the ouster in District 11.
Unofficial, final results posted after the election showed that of the roughly 17,845 votes cast Tuesday, 8,827 voted in favor of the recall while about 600 fewer were opposed.
District 11, which includes Colorado College, encompasses much of downtown Colorado Springs and stretches into Manitou Springs.
Voters overwhelmingly elected Bernie Herpin, a Republican former city councilman, as Morse’s successor. Herpin will take Morse’s seat in the Senate for the remainder of the current term.
Last week, Tom Cronin, CC’s McHugh Professor of Leadership Studies who is a widely accepted expert on Colorado politics, told The Catalyst that he thought Morse would retain his position, but admitted that recall elections are difficult to predict. His wisdom proved true.
The election was the first of its kind in Colorado and represented a historic decision that received backing from the National Rifle Association and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Talk of a recall election first surfaced last spring after many of Morse’s constituents expressed outrage at his gun control legislation, including a bill that required universal background checks and put restrictions on sales of large-capacity ammunition magazines.
This summer, anti-Morse groups successfully petitioned residents in the district for enough signatures to force a recall election.
Morse conceded around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night after it became increasingly apparent that he would not maintain his position after the recall election.
“Robert F. Kennedy once said, it is the essence of responsibility to put the public good ahead of personal gain,” Morse said in a concession speech Tuesday night, according to The Gazette.
Morse spoke at Colorado College outside of the Worner Campus Center last Friday trying to rally last-minute support for his race and hoping to keep his seat in the State Senate. Members of the media attended that event and interviewed a number of students involved in the pro-Morse effort.
Across campus, many groups worked to spread word of the election, including distributing signs reading, “CC will decide this election.”
There was no word this week on the estimated turnout of CC student voters.
Polls were open throughout last week with the final election day Tuesday. The CC Democrats were in full force, offering rides to students who wished to travel downtown to vote in the elections.
Many polls were steadily busy throughout the day as voters streamed past petitioners and members of the media, vying to influence the ballot.
The NRA released a statement to various media outlets following news of Morse’s concession, saying: “The people of Colorado Springs sent a clear message to the Senate leader that [Morse’s] primary job was to defend their rights and freedoms and that he is ultimately accountable to them – his constituents, and not to the dollars or social engineering agendas of anti-gun billionaires.”
Angela Giron, a state senator representing a district in Pueblo, was also recalled Tuesday in a similar election. Giron had also supported legislation tightening gun control in Colorado.
Jesse Paul, Editor-in-Chief