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Colorado Senate President John Morse Colorado Senate President John Morse  

Colorado recall efforts get ugly ahead of key ruling

Recall efforts against two Colorado Democrats are reaching a fever pitch ahead of an expected ruling on Wednesday on whether a petition recalling Senate President John Morse contained the right language to proceed with an election.

Supporters of both Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron have argued that the petitions circulated in their districts — both of which were certified by the secretary of state to have had enough signatures to move forward — should be tossed out because they do not specify that there will be elections to replace the ousted lawmakers.

A hearing on Morse’s complaint was held last week and an opinion on the argument from the secretary of state’s office is expected by Wednesday, the same day the office will hold a hearing on Giron’s identical complaint.

Wednesday is also the deadline for Morse’s supporters to file additional complaints and his campaign has indicated it will challenge the authenticity of some signatures. Supporters have claimed some names have been forged.

If a complaint is filed, it will further extend the drama around the recalls that has done nothing but intensify in recent weeks.

On Saturday, a Giron supporter was arrested on an outstanding warrant for contempt of court on a criminal mischief charge after police were called to an altercation involving the supporter and a voter who’d signed the recall petition.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, Giron supporter Elric Franco was trying to convince the petition signer to remove her name when the conversation got heated. Franco was removed from Giron’s campaign after his arrest and Giron’s supporters apologized for the incident.

Earlier, another Giron supporter was caught handing out cash to volunteers waving signs and blocking signature gatherers. After a video of the incident surfaced, campaign workers gathered the money, $60, and gave it to the state unclaimed property fund. Giron said she did not know the man, even though she has seen in the video talking to him.

Morse’s supporters are also accused of harassing behavior, with several people who have signed petitions against him reporting phone calls and postcards asking them to remove their names.

“Senator Morse is so desperate to keep his seat that now no one is exempt from the harassment; it ranges across party lines as well as demographic lines,” Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Morse recall group Basic Freedom Defense Fund, told the Denver Post.

But Morse’s campaign is alleging that many signatures were forged, even claiming that Morse’s opponents added the name of a woman who has been dead for two years.

“Again and again the recall effort has come under fire for using illegal and fraudulent practices to obtain signatures,” reads a statement on the Facebook page of the pro-Morse group A Whole Lot of People for John Morse. “Now, recall circulators have been caught forging the names of Colorado Springs residents on recall petitions.”

“It’s time to put an end to the deceit,” the statement continues. “Voters of CS deserve a full investigation before anyone demands an election. Imaginary signatures does not [sic] a recall make.”

Regardless of how Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert rules in Morse’s petition-language challenge, the decision will almost certainly be appealed by the losing party to district court, ensuring that there will be no quick end to the posturing from either camp.

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