Thursday, September 12, 2013

New senators Herpin, Rivera to take office during first week of October

The two Republicans chosen to replace recalled senators John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, will be sworn in Oct. 3.

Bernie Herpin, a former Colorado Springs city council member, and George Rivera, a retired law enforcement officer and former deputy chief of the Pueblo police department, are the beneficiaries of the state's first-ever legislative recall elections.

In Morse's district, which includes areas in western El Paso county and central and southern Colorado Springs, the recall election was a low turnout affair. Less than 25 percent of the voters in Senate district 11 voted in the Sept. 9 election; Morse lost his quest to retain his seat by less than 400 votes out of more than 17,000 cast.

Giron's race in Senate district 3 was not nearly as close, with about 56 percent of voters supporting her recall, and turnout was higher than in Morse's district with about 36 percent of voters participating in the election.

Advocates for generally unrestricted access to firearms spearheaded the effort to recall Morse and Giron in the aftermath of a package of modest gun bills enacted into law last spring. Those measures included limits on magazine capacity, closed certain background check loopholes, and a requirement that applicants for concealed carry permits pay the necessary fee.

The Democrats will continue to control the state senate during the 2014 legislative session. They'll have 18 members of the body, while the Republican party will have 17 members.

The question of who will succeed Morse as senate president will be resolved after Herpin and Rivera are sworn in. Possible contenders are president pro tempore Lucia Guzman of Denver and majority leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora.

Herpin and Rivera will have to stand in the November 2014 election if they wish to hold the seats beyond the first week of January 2015, which is when the next General Assembly begins.

Morse's district is about evenly divided between Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters.

Morse, a former paramedic and Fountain police chief, was first elected in 2006 and then again in the strong Republican year of 2010. Term limits would have forced Morse from office in January 2015.

Giron's district has significantly more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Giron, 53, was first elected in Nov. 2010.