DENVER — The drive to recall a top Colorado Democratic legislator over his gun-control support received a boost Thursday from a newly released poll showing a plurality of his constituents support removing him from office.
A poll by Public Opinion Strategies showed that 34 percent of district voters surveyed support the recall of state Senate President John Morse, versus 29 percent who oppose it. Another 33 percent said they were undecided on the recall effort, which is still in the signature-gathering phase.
When told that Mr. Morse sponsored an unsuccessful bill to make manufacturers and owners liable for crimes committed with their guns, however, undecided voters took sides. At that point 56 percent of those surveyed said they favor recalling the Colorado Springs Democrat.
“The voters in Senate District 11 are clearly leaning toward recalling Senator Morse,” said Laura Carno, president of the Colorado Springs-based I Am Created Equal, the free-market women’s group that sponsored the poll.
“They are paying attention to the gun bill debate, they don’t have high favorable image of Sen. Morse, and are more sharply in favor of the recall when they hear of proposed legislation,” said Ms. Carno in a statement.
Organizers have until June 3 to submit 7,178 valid signatures to force a recall election, but Mr. Morse isn’t waiting around for the outcome. His counter-campaign, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, has hired Chicago media outlet Adelstein Liston to place $15,000 in pro-Morse ads on a Colorado Springs television station, according to the conservative website Colorado Peak Politics.
Adelstein Liston’s clients include President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, fueling charges that the Colorado gun-control movement is being orchestrated by national Democrats.
The pro-Morse camp has raised $25,500, most of it from the national liberal group American Votes. Meanwhile, the El Paso County Freedom Defense Fund, which is organizing the recall, has raised about $16,400, according to the Denver Post.
Petitions are being circulated to recall four Democratic state legislators because of their support for the legislature’s gun-control package, one of the most far-reaching in the country. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed in March three bills that would restrict ammunition-magazine capacity; require background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, and require gun buyers to pay for their background checks.
Democrats said the bills were needed to prevent tragedies like the July 20 mass shooting at the Aurora theater, which left 12 dead. Republicans argued that the bills would do nothing to stop such shootings, but would hamper public safety by making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns.
The poll, which surveyed 250 Colorado voters living in Mr. Morse’s legislative district from May 1-2, found that 69 percent said they are paying “close attention” to the state’s gun debate. The poll has a +/- 6.2 percent margin of error.