September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
12 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. KeninTexas

    I think this is great! We should hold all representatives accountable for their actions when they put their own PC BS ahead of what the people really want. Enough of these idiots.

    September 11, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. Sarah

    Many countries politics are based on religion. Only in America is it based on weapons of death.

    September 11, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Mike Mentges

    Freedom will prevail against tyranny! Good job Colorado! Time to gain some Republican seats! Let the liberals know their attack on freedom will not be tolerated!

    September 11, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Name

    Out with the garbage. In with the upgrade.

    September 11, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. PortOurTroops

    If you were to believe the Quinnipiac University poll last month mentioned in this article, we now can call them "Gun-totin' Republicans." 89% vs. 7% are war-weary numbers.

    September 11, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  6. theseconddavid

    This is a victory for all Americans.

    September 11, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Dave

    "This is not the wrong business to be fearful about doing the right thing,"

    In other words, this IS the right business to be fearful about doing the right thing...according to her.

    What a sad state our nation is in that a public servant has to be afraid of doing what's right in favor of doing what lobby groups want. This doesn't mean I agree with the law that was inacted in Colorado, but in general, when a politician (or anyone for that matter) is afraid of following thier moral compass because of pressure from a (likely radical) self interest group, we all as a nation suffer. This is a nation founded of the people, by the people, for the people....not of the lobby, by the lobby, for the lobby, and we, the people, need to remember that and let democracy run its course and accept, gracefully, the decisions made.

    September 11, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. ACW

    What?? The people are pushing back against socialist gun grabbers? Don't we know only the lefties know what is best for us? BTW..how exactly does limiting mag capacity to 15 prevent anyone motivated to shoot unarmed toddlers from doing so, as Morse's comments somehow suggest? Hopefully this will make it clear to the gungrabbers that when they try to strip away our rights they may lose the only thing they hold more dear than their socialist beliefs – their personal position of power and authority.

    September 11, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. jlp

    Once again "Common sense loses to the Paranoia inspired by the NRA". It's tragically sad how gullible people can be. I own guns,but do not have any problems with sensible limitations on types or amounts of ammo. It's pretty pathetic when people can't even buy a cup of coffee without being armed.

    September 11, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. DKP

    Finally some good news for a change.

    September 11, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. chewie402

    Why are supports of gun rights called "Activists"....but those supporting gun control are simply referred to as "Supporters"?

    September 11, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  12. doughnuts

    Neither of the proposed laws those legislators voted for, had they been in place in Massachussetts, would have prevented Adam Lanza from killing all those people in Sandy Hook.

    September 11, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. Pinewalker

    We have to respect the wishes o the voters in each state. I think this is part of what makes America great. We come from different backrounds and experiences, yet we are woven together as one. I am conservative and pro-second amendment but live in a very liberal state with extremely restrictive gun laws. But that is the wishes of the majority of the citizens of the state I live in. They want these laws. I either live with it or move to someplace with more people who share my ideology.

    September 11, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Colorado voters have laid the groundwork to allow additional school masscares and tragedies involving children to take place. Well done, Colorado!

    September 11, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. JPR70

    How ridiculous has this gotten! Nobody is trying to take your guns. These are simple common sense gun laws and the crazies out there are completely uncapable of even having a conversation. The NRA is not interested in your rights, they are interested in protecting the profits of the gun industry and driving those profits up through a campaign of fear and lies.

    September 11, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. WIlliam

    WOW, now this is some front page news – everywhere else.
    I am glad that CO ousted the anti-2nd amendment Senators – but I do think this is a State issue for the most part. Conn and NY, Illinois, should regulate all they like as the people deserve the government they elect and lets face it – there seems to be a connection to corruption and gun control – the more gun control you have the corruption follows. After all, not all cities have the elected officials arrested for rigging mayoral contests like NYC, or 5 of the last 7 governors convicted of high crimes (Ill)

    September 11, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. Gotta Start Somewhere

    If Colorado can drop kick Democrats for ignoring the peoples' wishes, imagine what can be accomplished in the other 49 states. Just takes someone to get the ball rolling!

    September 11, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. Bill

    Next up NY? Please

    September 11, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. BSH

    The problem with Bloomberg's comment is that many people realize that measures like magazine limits and "assault" weapon bans do NOTHING to reduce crime or homicides. The Colorado legislature overruled reason, overruled their people, and adopted a measure that harms law-abiding citizens while accomplishing no public benefit whatsoever. They deserve to lose for that, and more of them deserve to lose. These Colorado Democrats, during debate on the bill, basically said to a rape victim, "we don't care about you, and you should not have the ability to even try to defend yourself." That's disgusting, and just adds to the offense that Giron and Morse have now been held accountable for.

    September 11, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. Bob

    Bloomberg's money spent in Colorado to buy these politicians was finally defeated by the NRA who represents many people who gave their $50 to the NRA to represent them and fight for them with a common voice.

    September 11, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  21. Luis Wu

    Gun freaks. Trying to make up for having tiny little wieners by owning big guns. lol.

    September 11, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. YoMum

    Because only having 15 rounds of ammunition is going to save lives. Riiiight. But, good job with the background checks.

    September 11, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. Clem

    We are on par for our 20,000 + deaths a year by guns.....way to GO....yay. A girl in OK was just shot in the face, yep, one of 20,000....bet she wished that POS didn't have a gun. NRA=EVIL, money, greedy non-humans..

    September 11, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. KeninTexas

    I think this is great! We should hold all representatives accountable for their actions when they put their own PC BS ahead of what the people really want.

    September 11, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  25. DCKeene

    WOOOOOOW...the NRA is a SCARY bunch of folks and has WAY too much control over politics these days.

    September 11, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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