A Democrat running for the seat once held by a Colorado state Senate leader recalled for supporting gun control has promised to pick up where John Morse left off.
Democratic candidate Mike Merrifield officially announced his candidacy on Sunday, even though he made his intentions to run for Morse’s seat known several months ago.
Republican Bernie Herpin replaced Morse in the Sept. 10 recall election, but Herpin will only serve the remainder of Morse’s term, which ends next year. Morse would have been term limited if he’d survived his recall challenge.
Merrifield is a former Manitou Springs City Councilman and a four-term state representative, but he is also the former state director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the anti-gun organization headed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
MAIG provided significant financial support for Morse and former Sen. Angela Giron, who was also recalled in September, including a $350,000 donation from Bloomberg himself. Opponents of the recall raised about $3.5 million, according to the Denver Post, compared to just over a half million for those seeking the lawmakers’ ouster, according to the Denver Post.
In the wake of the recalls, Gov. John Hickenlooper publicly appealed for out-of-state groups to butt out of another recall effort that’s ongoing against Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak.
“Colorado is a state that people like to be themselves and solve their own problems,” he told USA Today recently. “They don’t really like outside organizations meddling in their affairs.”
In the early days of the recall process, there was talk of a plan for Morse to resign from the state senate rather than go through with the election. In that case, a Democratic vacancy committee could have appointed a successor. Merrifield was the likely candidate.
But according to a June article in the Colorado Statesman, Democrats cringed at that idea, concerned that they would be seen as circumventing the democratic process by installing a candidate who would be perceived as practically hand-picked by Bloomberg.
“Such a move risks public backlash as it could be perceived as both ignoring the electorate’s wishes and taking an even harder stance against gun rights,” proponents argued in a press release reported by the Statesman.
Morse, Giron and Hudak have been targeted for supporting new laws that limit ammunition magazines to those that hold no more than 15 rounds and require universal background checks for all gun transfers.
Groups hoping to kick Hudak out of office have until Dec. 3 to collect 18,900 valid signatures to trigger a special election. Like Morse and Giron before her, Hudak has vowed not to resign. If she is successfully recalled, Democrats will lose their one-seat majority in the Colorado state senate.
Merrifield did not reply to emails or phone calls from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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