Gessler sues Hickenlooper, wants recall election date set

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Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, at the Capitol last year.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, at the Capitol last year.

DENVER — In a surprise move late Sunday, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler filed suit against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, aiming to force the governor to set a date for a recall election in Colorado Springs, FOX31 Denver is first to report.

Gessler’s office certified the recall petitions against Senate President John Morse on July 5, after a protest by Morse’s legal team was dismissed.

Hickenlooper has 60 days from that date to set an election.

But Hickenlooper has yet to announce a date for a recall election, as Morse’s challenge has been appealed to a Denver district court with a hearing set for Wednesday.

The Writ of Mandamus, filed by Steven Klenda, a former attorney at Gessler’s former firm, states that the governor “has refused to perform his constitutional duty to set a date for an election to recall” Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, who also faces a recall.

“His refusal to perform this mandatory and ministerial duty is frustrating the right of Colorado citizens to vote promptly on whether these senators should remain in office,” the Writ continues.

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, a Republican, complained last week that his office needs to know the date of a recall election now so it can begin preparing and filed his own motion.

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.

Earlier this month, Morse’s attorney, Mark Grueskin, filed a motion asking Gessler’s Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, who heard the protests, to recuse herself from the case because the entire office is biased against Morse and Giron.

That request was denied.