Locked in a battle for his career, Senate President John Morse is pulling a Hickenlooper and hiding from taking a clear position on the death penalty for cold-blooded killer Nathan Dunlap.

After first refusing to return The Denver Post‘s Lynn Bartels calls in the immediate aftermath of the Governor’s cowardly decision to grant a temporary reprieve, Bartels finally got Morse on the record…sort of.

Morse’s only comment on the decision is that he “might have” decidedly differently. Seriously. Morse gave a non-answer to Hick’s non-decision. Now that’s what we call “leadership.”

As Bartels reported last night:

“If I had been in his place I might have made a different decision, but it’s his decision and I respect the process he went through,” Morse said.

We’re surprised Bartels let Morse get away with that complete lack of an answer, but there it is. John Morse — deciding not to decide on the decision to allow Nathan Dunlap’s death penalty to go forward.

Despite Morse’s non-answer, he’s made a major shift on the issue of the death penalty…but with a recall looming he’s probably not looking to highlight his leftward drift.

He went from rabidly for it as a newbie senator and former cop, to suddenly against it once he sipped from the cup of power in the liberal legislature.

As Westword reported in December:

And John Morse, a Democrat and the new president of the Senate, says he is likely to support a repeal. This would be a major shift from his previous stance on the matter — and it will be a personal struggle for him, he says…

“There’s almost always folks in my caucus [interested in a repeal],” he said. “A couple years ago when that bill was up…I voted no for the repeal, so to keep the death penalty. I do think that in the State of Colorado, it is well-administered. So there’s an argument to keep the death penalty for that purpose, and…that it could be on the books for situations like Aurora and like Columbine.”

…He continued, “If, in fact, it is introduced as a bill this year, I will struggle with it, but likely end up voting to repeal it, if somebody introduces it this year.”

We’d think that the mass murder of four people at Chuck E. Cheese, including three teenagers and a 50 year old mother, would qualify as an Aurora or Columbine-like situation that Morse said justified the death penalty. Maybe that’s what Morse was hinting at with his non-answer.

Sure would be nice to have a reporter get some clarity from the top legislative leader in the Capitol’s upper chamber on the issue dominating political conversations across the state.