Republicans outperforming in Colorado recalls

September 9, 2013
In this Aug. 13, 2013 photo, Peggy Philipps pledges her support to Sen. John Morse when he visits her home in Colorado Springs, Colo. Every afternoon, Morse has been visiting his constituency at their homes to inform them of the Sept. 10th recall election. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Jerilee Bennett) MAGS OUT
Peggy Philipps pledges her support to Sen. John Morse on Aug. 13 at her home  in Colorado Springs.  (Jerilee Bennett/Colorado Springs Gazette via AP)

When the polls open in two Colorado state Senate districts tomorrow, one Democratic incumbent who hopes to keep his job will start at a distinct disadvantage. That’s because Republicans are turning out to vote at a much higher rate than Democrats, according to early vote tallies.

As of Monday morning in El Paso County, where state Senate President John Morse (D) is fighting a recall effort, 4,243 of the 10,307 voters who have cast ballots so far are registered Republicans. Just 3,349 votes have come from Democratic voters, said Ryan Parsell, a spokesman in the county clerk’s office.

In Morse’s 11th District, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a 23,344-to-18,174 margin. The fact that Republicans are turning out at higher rates in early voting — which has historically benefited Democrats — is an ominous sign for Democrats.

In Pueblo County, where state Sen. Angela Giron (D) faces a recall, the numbers look better for Democrats. By Friday morning, 5,887 of the 11,252 voters who cast a ballot were Democrats, while 3,314 voters were registered Republicans.

Party strategists worried more about Morse’s fate than they did about Giron’s. Morse represents Colorado Springs, which isn’t as Democratic as Giron’s home town, Pueblo.

Outside money continues to pour into both races. Backers of Giron and Morse have spent almost $3 million, the Denver Post reported Monday, while recall supporters have raised about $540,000. Almost two-thirds of the money the recall proponents have raised has come from out of state, including about $360,000 from the National Rifle Association. Two billionaires who back Morse and Giron, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad, have contributed a combined $600,000 to a nonprofit group set up to oppose the recalls.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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