September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
1 year 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. Larry Moniz

    Michael Bloomberg is a party hopping political opportunist now seeking a new home after having even finagled New York Law to fun for a third term despite a two-term cap on being mayor. As a politician he's a real threat because he has so much power through his newswire service and personal wealth as a multi-billionaire. Although he's from Boston, he appears to me to have forgotten where individual rights in this nation began as well as where the militia and Minutemen were developed. For anyone else who's forgotten, that's where individuals could respond to an emergency – such as government usurpation of personal property. That's right, it led to the Second Amendment, so called because it was deemed so critical to the continued freedom of Americans.

    September 11, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. DJones

    This doesn't surprise me as I used to live in Colorado and know that Colorado citizens are notoriously freedom loving people. Within a a couple of years you will see Colorado leading the way on gun advocacy and the laws these people tried to force on citizens will be gone. It is good to see these traitors tossed out of office.

    September 11, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  3. Stephen Daugherty

    Voters should realize that what they're doing is trading temporary absolutism for long term corrosion of their rights, of public sympathy for gun owners. The NRA used to be about responsible gun ownership. Then it got taken over by people who filled people's heads with conspiracy theories in order to make them more pliable. There's nobody so easy to manipulate as the person you can convince everybody else is against them. Eventually, though, something bad's going to happen, and that's going to start a backlash in the other direction, and what they thought was preventing gun control will only inspire more of it. Gun rights groups could be working with others for compromises, but instead they're doing the same sort of strained insistence on getting their way that's led the rest of the conservative movement to disaster.

    September 11, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. jrl1234

    Let it be known, We the people don't support gun control. We don't support much of any government control. The people won because we have common sense and reason on our side, we don't buy into the fear tactics and misinformation. Gun control only hurts people that follow the rules, criminals don't.

    September 11, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  5. Joe Schmoe

    When are these politicians going to learn that they are elected to protect our rights, not infringe on them? You are beholden to the people, not your political ideology.

    September 11, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. chris

    pro gun law folks out easily out raised the challengers by millions, yet lost...

    September 11, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  7. Deedles

    Really? Recalled for trying to keep lunatics from purchasing lethal weapons, and high-impact magazines? The inmates are in deed running the asylum in CO. Morse and Giron were truly brave to stand up to the NRA. The voters that booted them, cowards and sheep.

    September 11, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  8. KBNJ

    "Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, argued the gun laws are still in place in Colorado, despite the lawmakers' ouster."
    a) Why does CNN choose to publish the NY mayor's remarks on a Colorado issue at all?
    b) Why is Bloomer so WRONG on so many things these days? (Same senility virus as McCain?)
    At any rate, the voters have spoken.

    September 11, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  9. Carey Gire

    I'm sure the people of Colorado were thinking of the Aurora shootings while they were voting. Good luck.

    September 11, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  10. TickedinNY

    Let that be a lesson to both parties. Come 2014 elections, there will be more of the same.

    September 11, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  11. rob

    Liberals getting a taste of what's to come when you mess with Americans rights.

    September 11, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  12. JV

    Good. Lets get rid of all these self rightous nutz.

    September 11, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  13. Mike

    Typical liberals voting in laws based on emotion instead of reason.

    September 11, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  14. Unum

    Ummmmm.... why is CNN posting a picture to this article that has Mass. State Police tagged to it in its corner showing brass knuckles with a bunch of ammo, etc, . Is it to represent silently to the article that us "gun lovers" are thugs? Funny thing is that it likely is a Mass Troopers supply bag and I have to ask why the hell does he have brass knuckles? Regardless all this shows is that Bloomberg and his stormtroopers of Socialism cant buy what they want in changing America from the rugged individualism that made it great to some Socialistic Karl Marx Utopia dream they have. Only problem here is that the recall isnt national and includes about 60% of politicians!

    September 11, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  15. Juan Valdez

    It would seem that while you can smoke dope in Colorado, you can't vote against the 2nd Admendment.

    September 11, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  16. us_1776

    Sad.

    Let the killings continue.

    .

    September 11, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  17. Steve Johnson

    I think there's a lot of people in the middle who would support improved background checks, but don't agree with restrictions on the "style" of guns / sale of ammunition / etc.

    September 11, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  18. Ed

    I hope this is only the beginning. These two believed the media tripe, Biden and Obama..............and not the people who put them in office. Don't let the door hit you in your behind on the way out.

    September 11, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  19. hikerstud

    The right to bear arms will not be infringed upon.

    September 11, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  20. Shmrockrancher

    Alright Colorado!!!

    September 11, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Juliemac

    Boy this disappeared fast

    September 11, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Kudos, Colorado!

    September 11, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  23. BigD

    NRA paid big bucks for slander commercials. Big money wins.

    September 11, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. pattha990

    I hope other voters learn from this. We can hold politicians accountable if we get off our butts and vote. Recalls can be used to make sure politicians are paying attention to the will of their constituents instead of the will of the lobbyists paying the bill. I would really be interested though to know what the voter turn out was for this election. One of the sad facts of the last few election cycles is that less than 50% of eligible voters even bother to turn up and vote. That might be why the fringes of both parties seem to be winning a majority of elections when "most Americans" consider themselves moderate and independent.

    September 11, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  25. Disabled veteran

    John, Angela,

    Watch that door on your way out!

    September 11, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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