Barely re-elected, Morse fearful of what Republican spending controls will lead to
Gardner, winner of 3rd term, suggests Democrat ‘still in campaign mode’
State Sen. John Morse, clearly displeased by an election that increased Republican power and nearly cost him his seat, said in an interview with the Westside Pioneer
this week that the election was not a repudiation of what he termed “Democratic values” but instead a voter reaction to a bad economy.
The Senate majority leader, whose District 11 includes Old Colorado City and much of the Westside, defeated Republican newcomer Owen Hill by just 252 votes in the Nov. 2 election. And while the State Senate retains a Democrat majority, the House (pending final resolution of an even closer election elsewhere in Colorado) now has a one-member Republican majority.
“When the economy is down, those in power are going to take a shellacking,” said Morse, echoing a word that Democrat President Barack Obama himself had used. People have criticized the Democrats' economic effort to create jobs through a pricey government stimulus package, but actually, Morse said, “It hasn't had time to work.”
As a result, the electorate “threw out some people they wouldn't have thrown out [in different times] and voted in people they wouldn't have voted for,” he said.
As an example, he pointed to the six-point defeat of Amendment 63, a state initiative seeking to exempt Colorado from the Obama health care plan. “The electorate resoundingly supported Democratic values while throwing Democrats out of office,” he said. Further, Morse charged that the Republican call for spending controls would target schoolteachers.
Asked about Morse's comments, Republican State Rep. Bob Gardner, whose District 21 includes Westside areas north and south of Old Colorado City, said it sounded as if “Senator Morse is still in his campaign mode, making wild charges and accusations and not discussing what the realities are.”
The realities, according to Gardner, who was re-elected to a third term and will now head the House Judiciary Committee, are that all areas of the state budget are likely to face cuts. “We have to cut $1 billion, and it will come from everywhere,” he said.
Even a Democrat-controlled Statehouse made cuts in education over the past two years, he added. “It's disappointing to me to hear that rhetoric being used,” Gardner said. “The only way we can solve this is by a great deal of collaboration. I could make lots of comments about growth of government at the state level [under Democrat control], but don't think that's helpful.”
As for Amendment 63, Gardner said, “I understand why he makes that assertion, but I don't agree with it. All the polling tells me people don't agree with Obamacare, and it's incredibly hard to get a 'yes' vote in a state initiative.”
The Pioneer asked Morse if his comments meant that he would not be “reaching across the aisle” during the coming session. He responded by stating that he has “probably reached across the aisle more than anyone else,” including cosponsoring bipartisan bills. At the same time, he said, “I'm not going to compromise my Democratic principles.”
Gardner was asked how he feels about the Tea Party, an unofficial name ascribed to individuals promoting conservative (typically Republican-backing) values in this election. “ I don't consider myself a member of the Tea Party, but do I identify with it? It's what the average citizens want,” he said. “In large part, their goals are things Republicans have always believed in, but it's also fair to say that Republicans have not always implemented what they believed. That's why voters rejected them in 2008.”
Westside Pioneer article