September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
11 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. much thunder..little rain

    glad there gone..i bet jerrery babbitt wish he had a gun when he was beaten to death in new york

    September 11, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. Wake up People!

    The NRA running Amurrikkka one state at a time.........

    September 11, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  3. Anonymous

    bravo, colorado voters.

    September 11, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. TrueThought

    Wow..This is really disturbing and says alot about the state of this country and the people of Colorado, when an elected official is ousted because they pushed to enforce additional checkpoints before a weapon is sold. Not taken away..but adding checkpoints to ensure some type of due diligence is perform before handing over a weapon of destruction to another person.

    September 11, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. Gueat

    So do the gun right activists expect the concession stand employees selling popcorn to save them during the next attack? Or will they protect themself with their concealed 9mm pistol versus multiple 100 round drums coming from a bushmaster automatic? Your 9mm pistol may survive, but you wont.

    September 11, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. smith

    The people have spoken. Be prepared to see this in 2014, bye bye liberals.

    September 11, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Jake

    Making laws based upon emotion is always a bad idea. They should not be surprised they lost their position.

    September 11, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. Chris

    All of them, including Obama, should face a recall for their irresponsible decision making.

    September 11, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. mark

    I'm surprised that CNN ran this story as they are, in my opinion, a left-biased news outlet. However, I'm glad to see them run a story about a swing state whose voters have decided to make their voice heard in regards to knee-jerk gun control laws. i think many citizens would like to see the laws on the books enforced more strictly, the death penalty used as a deterrent (not allowing people to spend 20 years on death row prior to execution by lethal injection), and less folks locked up for BS drug possession charges resulting in jail space being taken up by non-violent offenders. just my two cents folks. hope everyone has a great day.

    September 11, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Liberty again

    Gun grabbers and other enemies of the Constitution underestimated the resolve of the People. A disarmed citizenry are helpless against a police state, which is what the enemies of the Constitution are trying to turn America into. These gun control laws aren't aimed at criminals. They're aimed at you and me. Stand up and fight. Don't be a sheep.

    September 11, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Navyvet8192

    I hope other states like CA follow suit. Pretty soon, the only people that will have weapons will be the military, cops, and criminals if "We the People" don't start holding our elected officials accountable to the will of the people and not their own personal agendas, we'll be in a worse mess than we could ever fathom.

    September 11, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. DontLieToMe

    Thank you Colorado. Time to put the Nannystate people back in their lemming hole.

    September 11, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Dan Haynes

    I'm giving a standing ovation for the grass roots organization that accomplished this recall election. I would also like to thank the people of Colorado for exercising their right to vote

    September 11, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. budshot

    'gun control Dems'. What a joke. These are common sense laws that protect gun owners as much as anyone. All this vote does is prove what fear and misinformation can do. But it's all for nought. Colorado got rid of gerrymandering and the overwhelming majority of the citizens of Colorado are in favor of these common sense laws. They would have passed anyway if these two legislators had been Republican and voted against them, there were that many votes.

    Colorado outlawed gerrymandering and the state went solid blue. It will stay that way. This recall and the nutball secessionist talk in the northeast part of the state is all about whining Republicans who have had their cheat way for decades and no longer will.

    September 11, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. ro

    Yeah, because Colorado is the LAST state that needs gun control laws...did you see that? it's called sarcasm...no wonder your kids do dumb things related to gun violence...they learn it from their parents...meanwhile the rest of the sane parents and kids in Colorado have to suffer for it

    September 11, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. Adams

    Democracy... The will of the people.

    September 11, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. Marty Porter

    Nice! Politicians need to listen to their constituents, otherwise face the backlash...

    September 11, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  18. Linda Martin

    While I respect the democratic process, I am saddened to see these lawmakers go, who risked their careers for the sake of children in particular, who as history has shown, are the main victims of gun violence. I applaud their courage and convictions and believe that better days lie ahead for them. Thank you for protecting us from gun violence to the best of your capacity, and bless you.

    September 11, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  19. Matthew Stoian

    God bless America

    September 11, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. Sean

    Ever since weed was legalized in Colorado the hippies do not have the ambition to get off the couch and vote.

    September 11, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. Republiker

    This is great news for everyone.

    September 11, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. Marie MD

    To Colorado residents. You might think you won the gun battle but those rethugs are going to start taking your civil and personal rights away and you certainly deserve it.
    Have fun you fools!

    September 11, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. david

    "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.

    because they agree with americans? they just voted out 2 poeple who voted for gun control. obviously this guy is stupid Im so glad i dont live in new york anymore uneducated liberals.

    September 11, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. apple pie

    Great. Put up another vote for the right to freely maim and kill each other with whatever weapon we want. Nut jobs and loonies came out to vote and they hold your future, Colorado.

    September 11, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  25. SCBAMA

    When the citizens of gun control are allowed to vote on the issue....Liberals lose.

    September 11, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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