Gessler Hires Ex-Hackstaff Lawyer To Harass Hickenlooper

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Keeping it in the family, the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports:

Republican Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has hired an attorney with ties to his old law firm to file a bold court order against Gov. John Hickenlooper in an effort to force the governor to set election dates in the recalls of two Democratic state lawmakers.

In a writ of mandamus, filed in Denver District Court over the weekend by attorney Steven Klenda, Gessler asks for an “expedited/emergency hearing” because Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has “refused to perform his constitutional duty to set a date for an election to recall” Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo…

FOX 31's Eli Stokols explains the backstory, and reported the news first:

Generally, Republicans believe that the Democrats’ strategy is to delay the process as much as possible.

Democrats, on the other hand, believe that Republicans want the election set before the end of summer — and the return of students at Colorado College, something that could tip the scales in an election.

That Gessler’s office would file suit has an obvious political subtext: Gessler is likely to challenge Hickenlooper for the governorship next fall.

The Post's Lee did note an important detail that Stokols missed, though it's obvious: Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2014, didn't use the Attorney General's office to file this suit. There are a few possible explanations for that, but the most obvious ones indeed make this appear to be politically motivated. That would, of course, be consistent with behavior from Gessler throughout the recall process.

The bottom line is that Gov. John Hickenlooper believes the "clock" mandating the setting of an election date per the state constitution should start after legal challenges are resolved, while those seeking to recall Senators John Morse and Angela Giron want it set as quickly as possible, regardless of the status of those legal challenges. In Morse's case, the students at Colorado College, located in SD-11, weigh heavily into both sides' strategy. Residence halls at Colorado College begin to open to students in late August, with classes beginning September 2nd. Morse needs those student voters–and Republicans need them to not be there.

There are two distinct issues in play here, but the common theme for Gessler appears to be pure political advantage: in the short run to help the recalls succeed, and in the long run to use the whole business against Hickenlooper in his gubernatorial campaign next year. We'll update as this story develops.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    What a crock. Gessler is doing his duty, and Hickenlooper looks desperate.

    • MADCO says:

      It's a waste of money.

       

      The election will be held not more than 60 days after the petition was deemed sufficient but not within 30 days after. However, if a general election is within 90 days of filing, then the recall election will beheld in conjunction with the general election.

       

      Pretty sure the sufficiency was less than two weeks ago.

      • Republican 36 says:

        Colorado statues section 1-12-111 states:

        If the recall petition is held to be sufficient under section 1-12-108(8)(c) and after the time for protest has passed, the designated election official, without delay, shall set a date for the recall election not less than forty-five nor more than seventy-five days after the petition has been deemed sufficient and the time for protest has passed;" (Emphasis added)

        The first question is whether or not the court case is part of the process. Even if it isn't, the Governor can sill call the election for a date that will insure the Colorado College students have returned for the Fall semester.

         

         

  2. Republican 36 says:

    That detail about the attorney general is telling. It usually means the AG refused to file the case, probably because it pits two executive branch officers against each other whom AG Suthers represents and, more importantly, the Attorney General probably thinks SOS Gessler is wrong.

    I don't have time this morning to look up the law but it appears on the face of it Governor Hickenlooper has the best side of the argument. If the recall election goes forward before we know the outcome of the court challenges, the state could find itself in a situation where the senators have been recalled but the courts find the process was flawed and therefore invalid. Its better to wait and have a final decision from the courts.

    Mr. Gessler again fails to recognize that the mos timportant function of the secretary of state is to run a nonpartisan office when it comes to elections. Anything short of that undermines the confidence voters have in our elections. The county clerks have already given-up on Mr. Gessler but he shouldn't be digging the hole any deeper.

  3. mamajama55 says:

     

    Mr. Gessler again fails to recognize that the mos timportant function of the secretary of state is to run a nonpartisan office when it comes to elections. Anything short of that undermines the confidence voters have in our elections. – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/45714/gessler-hires-ex-hackstaff-lawyer-to-harass-hickenlooper#sthash.4aPYZaND.dpuf

    Sad to say, but I think that Mr. Gessler  has never cared about being nonpartisan. He used to care about the appearance of being nonpartisan. He doesn't really like public service, wants to go back into practicing law, which is certainly more lucrative. The losers, of course, are the voters and public servants of Colorado, who do care.

    I'm glad to see a Republican weighing in on this.

     

    Mr. Gessler again fails to recognize that the mos timportant function of the secretary of state is to run a nonpartisan office when it comes to elections. Anything short of that undermines the confidence voters have in our elections. – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/45714/gessler-hires-ex-hackstaff-lawyer-to-harass-hickenlooper#sthash.4aPYZaND.dpuf

  4. bullshit! says:

    The Colorado College issue is a great opportunity to turn this back on the righties. Why don't you want those young smart kids to vote, righties? Or did I just answer my own question?

  5. My personal (non legal advice) opinion? If Morse and Giron want to delay Hickenlooper's setting of an election date, they should ask the courts for a temporary injunction to delay the election pending the outcome of the case. I don't think they'd have a hard time proving irreperable harm justifying the injunction.

    The governor's duty is to set an election date when the protest period has passed. Using the official definition, that period has passed.

    • MADCO says:

      The governor's duty is to set an election date when the protest period has passed. …

      Hmm- does the court date – tomorrow count as part of the "protest period."?

      Even if it doesn't, the designated election offical – the Goveronor – has plenty of time to set a date that meets the requirement. 

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account


You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.