The night of Colorado’s recalls are upon us and many questions will be answered tonight. Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and a Democratic controlled legislature passed a series of gun control bills earlier this year in response to Sandy Hook. The move caused a firestorm in rural and conservative areas and it has likely contributed to Hickenlooper facing a tough reelection next year. Specific to the legislature, passage of the bill prompted local 2nd amendment advocates to successfully organize recall petitions against Senators Jim Morse and Angela Girdon.
Morse, also the Senate President, sits in a conservative leaning district based around Colorado Springs. His district incorporates the US Air Force academy, surrounding suburbs and several large rural pockets of population in El Paso County. By contrast, Girdon’s district is more liberal being largely based in Pueblo county. Since Friday voters have been turning out in heavy numbers to vote early. Due to the fact the elections are recalls the state has not had time to send ballots by mail to voters. As a result, voters will have to vote in-person.
Just going off the numbers it is easy to say Morse is in more danger. His district is more conservative, as Senate Leader he is more associated with the bill and he irked suburban voters on other issues such as new environmental regulations. While Girdon has voted for all the bills that Morse has her district is more liberal and she is not in a leadership post in the Caucus.
Notably, pro-2nd Amendment groups have been vastly outspent. The NRA contributed over $300,000 to the recall and several small GOP groups have thrown in random thousands. On the other side, Bloomberg’s gun control PAC has given Morse and Girdon a combined $250,000. A Democratic Super PAC has thrown in $300,000. All told pro-Morse and Girdon forces have spent over $3 million while pro-recall forces about $540,000. Obama and national Democratic advisers have also flooded the state. Meanwhile, the state GOP, paralyzed due to internal divisions and a legislative leadership wary of embracing the recalls has only said they wish the recalls to succeed but have done nothing to aid the effort.
All this adds up to what will likely be a very exciting night. Expect both races to be close. If early vote tallies are to be believed Morse is in incredible trouble already. Despite the right lean of Morse’s district, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 23,344 to 18,174, But as of yesterday morning, registered Republicans had voted in greater numbers than Democrats, 4,243-3,349. out of 10,307 cast. In Girdon’s district, where Democrats outnumber the GOP by a larger margin, the early vote tally had Democrats outvoting Republicans 5,887-3,314 out of 11,252 votes cast. Of course early vote tallies do not indicate who will show up to vote on election day. nor where Independents are going. But historically, early voting has benefited Republicans far more than Democrats.
So with all this said if I had to give a prediction I would say Morse loses and Girdon wins. The recall process is twofold. First, voters have to decide whether to recall Morse and Girdon. If they do then they must choose who to replace them with. Because no third-party candidates qualified on the ballot for the recall, the two Republicans, George Riveria in Giron’s district and Bernie Herpin in Morse’s, running win by default if 50%+1 vote to recall Morse or Girdon. And I expect they will vote to recall Morse while Girdon survives to legislate another day.