Ex-Colorado Senate president John Morse (D) was recalled in September. (David Zalubowski/AP)
Colorado gun rights advocates, coming off two successful efforts to recall Democratic state senators over votes to strengthen gun control laws, began collecting signatures in a third district over the weekend in hopes of booting another incumbent out of office.
And this time, the stakes are bigger than a single Senate seat: Control of the entire legislative chamber hangs in the balance.
Recall organizers won certification Friday from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to begin collecting signatures in the effort to oust state Sen. Evie Hudak, a two-term Democrat from a district just north of Denver. The group must collect 18,900 valid signatures by Dec. 3 to force the recall question onto the ballot.
Hudak “has infringed upon our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. She has voted to make all citizens less safe and to drive hundreds of jobs from Colorado,” Mike McAlpine, a spokesman for the group collecting signatures, said in a statement e-mailed to the Denver Post.
McAlpine’s group will have to collect many more signatures than were required to force both state Senate President John Morse (D) and Sen. Angela Giron (D) onto the ballot last month. Organizers in Morse’s Colorado Springs-based district and in Giron’s Pueblo district collected about 10,000 and 13,500 signatures respectively.
But if recall organizers can collect enough signatures in Hudak’s district, they will have a strong chance of showing her the door. Despite outspending recall proponents by wide margins, and despite influxes of campaign cash from gun control advocates such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Morse and Giron both lost their bids to keep their seats.
And Hudak’s district is more conservative than either Morse’s or Giron’s. Hudak’s suburban Denver district gave President Obama 52 percent of the vote in 2012, according to a breakdown compiled by the liberal Daily Kos blog. Obama scored nearly 60 percent of the vote in the other two seats. Hudak won reelection over Republican Lang Sias by fewer than 600 votes of 80,000 cast in 2012, while a Libertarian Party candidate took more than 5,000 votes.
Gun rights advocates targeted Morse and Giron after the state legislature passed measures to ban some automatic weapons and certain high-capacity ammunition clips, and to strengthen the state’s background check system. By beating both Morse and Giron, Republicans edged closer to controlling the state Senate; Democrats hold a narrow 18-17 edge in the legislature’s upper chamber.
If Republicans are able to capture Hudak’s seat, they would flip that edge and gain a foothold in a state that Democrats won in 2012.