Incoming Senate President John Morse and his Majority Leader Morgan Carroll have always been viewed by Capitol observers as two things – power hungry and rigidly (and punitively) hyper-partisan. Just ask the
problem children conservative Democrats what happens when they don’t fall in line.
Recently, Sen. Morse came out on top after a difficult and bitter internal fight over caucus leadership and is now apparently consolidating his power. Everyone knows that Morse has tepid support within his caucus. Inside sources report that he threatened to quit the CO State Senate if he wasn’t elected Senate President by his Democratic caucus. The moderate Democrats kowtowed and Morse got his way.
Temper tantrums aside, Morse has long been known as a “my way or the highway” kind of guy, and with the new committee structure in the Senate, he’s proven once again that he rules his highway with an iron fist.
Case in point is the number of Senators on each committee. This number has largely been a function of how many members of each party are elected to the Senate. In 2011-2012, Democrats controlled the chamber with 20 Democrats to 15 Republicans, which didn’t change in the 2012 election. Nonetheless, the number of individual committee slots have been secretly manipulated by Morse and Carroll. Here’s the breakdown and comparison to last session committees:
Why does this matter? Simple, fewer members on each committee centralizes and consolidates power in Morse and Carroll. The Morse Carroll Power Grab Plan has two very real effects:
1) It muzzles the GOP minority by limiting the influence and opportunities for debate that each member has.
2) Perhaps even more Machiavellian, limiting committee slots weakens opposition to him and his agenda within his own Democratic caucus. In short – with fewer members on each committee, it’s easier for Morse to push what he wants.
The raw exercise of political power is nothing new in Senate Democrat circles. Two years ago in a partisan tirade over redistricting, Senate President, Democrat Brandon Shaffer killed several GOP bills even though they had strong bi-partisan support. With this Morse power grab, it seems that two more years where Senate Democrats abuse their power is going to be in the offing. Only a strongly aligned GOP caucus under Sen. Bill Cadman’s leadership will be able to fend off Morse and Carroll’s radical leftist agenda. Of course, then, Governor Hickenlooper, who has worked overtime to maintain a “moderate” appearance would owe the GOP for keeping his party’s ridiculous legislation off his desk.