September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
7 months ago

Colorado recall: Pro-gun control Democrats ousted

(CNN) – Voters booted out two Democratic state lawmakers in Colorado on Tuesday in a heated recall effort that generated national headlines as a referendum on the renewed gun control debate.

Both lawmakers voted in favor of the state's unpopular new gun laws earlier this year, sparking a wave of protest that got their names on the ballot for the state's first-ever recall at the state level.

State Senate President John Morse, who was a little more than a year shy of finishing his final term in office, conceded after he narrowly failed to win enough votes to keep his seat representing Colorado Springs. He was term-limited and would not have been able to run for re-election next year.

Read more: Colorado recall a proxy in national gun control debate

According to results from the secretary of state, 51% of voters in his district said "yes" to the recall, while 49% said "no." He'll be replaced by Republican Bernie Herpin.

Morse's colleague, state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, was also on the ballot and conceded late Tuesday night. She lost in a 56%-44% yes-no vote, and will be replaced by Republican George Rivera.

Giron's loss came as a bigger surprise, as her district is more Democratic than Morse's.

The new laws in Colorado, which took effect in July, limit firearm ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and require universal background checks on all firearm sales.

National groups on both sides of the gun rights debate jumped into the race, pouring money into a state level contest that normally would generate few headlines beyond Colorado's borders. But gun rights activists and gun control supporters nationwide saw the election as a chance to score an electoral victory for their respective movements.

Following the deadly movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado last July and the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in December, the Democratic-controlled legislature and Democratic governor quickly ushered the laws into place by mid-March.

A former police chief, Morse spent the past six weeks going door to door, asking voters to help him keep his job.

"You have to take it personally to some extent," Morse told CNN in an interview before the election. "But I also understand this is way bigger than me. I need to do it for those way bigger reasons."

While campaigning, Morse argued he doesn't have any regrets in his fight for tighter gun laws. Asked why he advocated for new regulations in the face of fierce opposition, he pointed to the real catalyst of the renewed firearm debate.

"The vision of 6- and 7-year-olds in Newtown being carted out on stretchers, with their Power Rangers T-shirts now covered by a white sheet," he said. "We can't continue to bury our children."

Giron also said she was "proud" that she voted for the gun laws.

"This is not the wrong business to be fearful about doing the right thing," Giron told CNN before the election.

But in a state with rich gun culture and tradition, a majority of voters, however, disagree with the laws. According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, voters in the state opposed the gun laws by a margin of 54%-40%. Democrats were supportive of the measures, 78%-16%, while Republicans more strongly opposed them, 89% to 7%.

More importantly for electoral purposes, a majority of independent voters opposed the laws, 56%-39%.

Tim Knight, founder of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, the group that initiated the recall against Morse, labeled the election as a "victory" for the state and those "who have been subject to the overreach of a Democrat agenda on guns, taxes, and accountability to the people."

"Since day one, they said it couldn't be done," Knight continued. "Tonight, this is a victory for the people of Colorado, and we share this victory with them."

The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, which helped mount the recall effort, also celebrated the results as a major milestone.

"(NRA-PVF) is proud to have stood with the men and women in Colorado who sent a clear message that their Second Amendment rights are not for sale," read a statement from the group.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, argued the gun laws are still in place in Colorado, despite the lawmakers' ouster. The pro-gun control group vowed to continue supporting like-minded candidates, hoping to tamp down fears that the recall sent a message to lawmakers across the country.

"For the last 20 years, the NRA has had the field to themselves in contests like these, but no more. We're committed to backing elected officials across the country who are willing to face these attacks because they agree with Americans about the need for better background checks," Bloomberg said in the statement.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said he was "certainly disappointed" by the outcome but acknowledged voters in the two Senate districts "have spoken."


Filed under: Colorado • Gun control • Gun rights • NRA
soundoff (1,113 Responses)
  1. mountainlady

    And the NRA wins again. Why don't we just let them run the country and stop pretending to have any kind of democracy? Guns are what America is all about. The 2nd Amendment is all that matters. Sad that a special interest lobby controls so many minds...... mostly male and mostly white. Sad that all these folks think that a gun in their hand makes them more important and more male.

    September 11, 2013 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  2. Mike Buck

    The Take Education Away (TEA) Party strikes again!

    September 11, 2013 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  3. Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

    Darn that pesky Second Amendment and all those who cherish the Constitution and all of its parts.

    September 11, 2013 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  4. ThatGuy

    Here here! Listen up Dems in Congress, you're next.

    September 11, 2013 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  5. Receo

    Congratulations Colorado.

    September 11, 2013 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  6. Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

    Oh, and CNN, using a photo of a snub-nosed pistol along with brass knuckles, a set of handcuffs was a bit over the top is demonstrating your oh-so-obvious bias on the subject of the Second Amendment.

    September 11, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  7. ColoradoJoe

    Karma at it's best.

    September 11, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  8. Murica

    A victory for pro-gun nuts and the culture of mass murder they continue to foster.

    September 11, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  9. Uncle Sam

    Angela Giron and John Morse you should be ashamed of yourselves. Now go get in the unemployment line.

    September 11, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  10. dc

    That's an interesting picture with the article, CNN...... You wouldn't be trying to sway public opinion, would you?? Didn't think so......... That's not your style..... Right?

    September 11, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  11. Tracy

    Do the right thing, regardless of the outcome.

    September 11, 2013 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  12. chas

    Good for them Finally a politician who actually has principles Sorry they lost their seats, its Colorado's loss.

    September 11, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  13. Namej

    Prelude to 2014 I think so.:)

    September 11, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  14. Mo Morgan

    Funny how people will band together about this, but when it comes to educating and feeding the poor of the world, its lackluster....

    September 11, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  15. whatpresidenthuh

    Colorado will not tolerate a puppet government. Morse and Giron cared not about what their constituents think or feel, but only about Obama, Bloomberg, and California's needs and wants. Hickenlooper, you are next to be fired. We are Colorado, not an extension of New York or California or Illinois. Let them enslave their citizens but not ours. Giron, Morse, you are fired!

    September 11, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  16. Thomas

    Why not give children gun lessons instead of a school lunch, art or music .

    God , Country , Freedom , how else will we compete with extremists .

    September 11, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Morse is a clown with his statement about the children that were murdered .
    A mentally ill psychopath killed those children.
    The day people like him get it though thier heads that it is a mental helath issue and not a gun issue , the quicker we can correct the actual problem.

    September 11, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  18. Durand Whipple

    AWESOME !!!! God bless the USA. We still love and fight for all of our rights !!! This is what happens when you awake the silent majority, those who are generally too busy working and paying taxes to be bothered by the standard issue bs politics most of the time. The NRA represents ME. High Five Colorado !

    September 11, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  19. Michael Benjamin

    Piling more useless gun control laws on the books does nothing to protect anyone. The only way to reduce gun violence is to totally remove them from society which is what the pro-gun control advocates really want. It is not going to happen. More restrictive gun laws will be rolled back except in ultra liberal states like California and New York.

    September 11, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  20. Chris Green

    Great job Colorado!!!...okay, who should be next?

    September 11, 2013 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  21. Wade

    You mean people in CO. have a brain after all?

    September 11, 2013 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  22. eric

    Wow. Too bad this doesn't happen to all politicians who try to skirt around Constitutional limits of power.

    September 11, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  23. G. Burt

    (Democrats were supportive of the measures, 78%-16%,).....Wrong...Someone must have doctored those results, as Giron lost by a very large margin in the Pueblo area that is mostly Democrats.

    September 11, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  24. reasonablebe

    a sad day when term democracy takes a back seat to single issue bullying that voters somehow have bought into.

    neither of these legislators committed a crime or other repugnant act of indecency or immorality. their only fault was doing something the nra didn't want them to do, and the nra and far right wing have merely demonstrated that $$$, not conscience or good and thoughtful conduct, can sway- including causing the politicos to decide to change the voting/voter rules, expending with the usual mail ballots that all other CO elections have had for several years, and the government has encouraged people to use and rely on, in order to lessen voter participation in this one 'special' election..... sad day.

    but this too, hopefully, shall pass. somehow, recalls need to be limited to good cause that is defined- to include criminal acts, acts of moral terpetude, or indecency, etc. if the only complaint is 'your politics don't agree with mine,' the answer should be, 'deal with it at the next election.' otherwise, we will end up with a legislative branch in constant flx and turmoil like italy. do we really want that?

    are we really that juvenile that we must demand recalls like children who continually demand a rematch when they lose a game or coin toss?

    September 11, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  25. Talk from CO

    Thank you Colorado Springs. This took a bipartisan effort on the part of all parties to oust these very poor representative. They listened to Bloomburg and not the Colorado people. Take note, the people of NY can do the same with their representatives.

    September 11, 2013 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
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