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. allen

    The liberal HOPLOPHOBES will never understand that more laws will NOT reduce crime or violence in OUR SOCIETY. It is proven, firearm ownership and right to carry has reduced crime in those areas. If more laws would prevent crime, then why, with existing laws, are there criminals, with felony records for breaking those laws that are supposed to prevent that which you liberals are alegedly trying to prevent. To all, address the problem in our society, personal values, and respect of others has been declining gradually over the years due to the nanny state liberal teachings. It is time to return to the Christian principles that helped found this great country!

    September 11, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. Bill Smells

    Don't let the door hit you where the Lord split you. Get out. Good riddance, you got what you deserved.

    This is what happens when politicians listen more to the White House than they do to their own people. Just another sign of how out of touch Democrats actually are with the people the supposedly represent.

    The Republicans will probably take back the Senate and hold both chambers the final two years of Obama's final term. Then we can lock down that lame duck president who's been destroying this country.

    September 11, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Tdog

    I'm sad I had to move from Co Springs several years back, I'd be proud to live there now

    September 11, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Breeze

    For a state that has had several mass shootings to vote out lawmakers for supporting reasonable gun legislation says a lot. Mostly it says: stand by for more gun slaughter.

    September 11, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. crazyvermont

    Wonder if Arizona has recall method whereby McCain could be recalled?

    September 11, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Alan

    The anti-recall side spent 10-1 more than those wanting to recall the two Democrats. Both of the Democrats were in Democratic leaning districts with Giron's district with a two to one voter edge for Dems. Bloomberg, Bland and the Hollywood crowd as well as Biden should have stayed put of the recall.

    Maybe this will make more of the legislative representatives think twice before passing feel good legislation that does nothing to stop crime. The highest gun ownership per capita is in Red states with few gun restrictions and the highest homicide rate per capita is in Blue states with significant restrictions on gun ownership. More liberal fail.

    September 11, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Name

    Why wrong with a background check? If you have something to hide maybe you shouldn't be trusted with a deadly weapon.

    September 11, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Landru

    I've been anti Rebulican for so long. In fact, anti Democrat as well. I just don't like the party system we have. I have to say though that trying to take away guns or put excessive control on them is just plain anti American. Glad to see the people can still get it done when they try.

    September 11, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. rick freeman

    Look for other states to follow suit. Missouri is doing one better

    September 11, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. revolting peasant

    Great. All our politicians care about is abortion and guns. Nothing else matters.

    September 11, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. S.B. Stein

    To think that if the NRA didn't buy these recalls, reasonable gun legislation would not be a problem. People who think any restrictions on weapons possessions is an attack on them are over reacting. If you really want to handle large weapons, join the military or the police. These weapons with large magazines are meant to kill people and not for hunting.

    September 11, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. Harman

    America ... land of the paranoid and gullible

    September 11, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. hillman1

    look for other states to do the same, Missouri is trying to go one better

    September 11, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. Colorado is america

    its called democracy.... even democrats dont want gun control on colorado just like republicans voted in favor of legalizing pot in colorado. this was an issue of federal elements getting involved in a state issue and the people of colorado have spoken

    September 11, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Lord Toronaga

    HAAAAAAAAAA ! See ya. NY Gov. Cuomo should be next.

    September 11, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. NameAlbrit

    Obviously in America,business first, no matter who die.like a good republican, I want very stricted control for guns sale.

    September 11, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. B Salama

    ... I don't believe most Americans oppose background checks, but in this country of "liberty", more and more things are being taken away from its citizens. Unfortunately, the arguments from people against guns, is that it is THE GUNS the ones that are the problem, and NOT the people who use them improperly, and that my fellow Americans, is blatant stupidity. Let's fix that train of thought and maybe we can get some of the other stuff accomplished. However, too much regulation is killing ingenuity, progress, and self-determination in this country. Democrats in particular, stop that crap would ya?

    September 11, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Corwin7

    Congratulations Colorado! You have managed to prove that you can be bought and sold by the Gun Lobby. Whats next...gonna fire teachers for teaching evolution or maybe make masturbation illegal? Maybe restrict women from working outside the home?

    September 11, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. longfisch

    They missed the point about representing their constituents, that is the reason they have been recalled.

    September 11, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. The People Have Spoken

    "And the NRA wins again. Why don't we just let them run the country and stop pretending to have any kind of democracy?"

    Mountainlady, people voting for or against their representatives based on their voting records IS democracy. A democracy doesn't cease being a democracy just because your candidate lost.

    September 11, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. lol

    So in America, people get voted out for supporting a "limit firearm ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and require universal background checks on all firearm sales." OMG, what a sacrifice. You mean you need a 30 round clip to go hunt Bambi? If so, you really suck at being a hunter and need to go take some shooting lessons. I really do not see the big deal with gun background checks...you get a background check every time you apply for a financial account, credit card, car loan, drivers license, job app....sooooooo, what's the difference? Oh, right, paranoia!!!

    September 11, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. JerryT

    Bloomberg needs to stop his quest of being the nations unelected lawmaker. It seems that his underlying desire to influence opinion borders on dictatorship. Hopefully people will realize that he is just another arrogant, power hungry individual with too much money.

    September 11, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Brian L

    The people of Colorado used their democratically elected right to recall their districts leaders. I don't care what your political party is. A smart elected official will accurately represent the will of their constituents. These two did not and were ousted for it.

    September 11, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Lee

    Very interesting development! Aside from the cost of recall elections, I am happy to see that Americans have found a new method of keeping elected officials accountable. It is also nice to see that the representatives are sticking to their principles rather than flopping like a fish. Keep government accountable and forcing official to hold to principles is definitely a positive change.

    September 11, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  25. Tim

    Hate responsible gun owner all you want. Were still here, Our rights in tacked. Feel free to leave or deal with it.

    September 11, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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