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. gunner

    Shame on the people of colorado. First they kill kids. Then they kill movie goers. Now they are killing themselves. The new third-world state of America.

    September 11, 2013 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  2. KellyF

    Its sad that a school full of dead kids leads to so called Americans foaming at the mouths over their guns. smh

    September 11, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  3. John

    I'm glad this happened.. And btw... There have never been any photos released of the newtown shooting incident and no explanation of how someone armed with only handguns (the police admitted he left rifles in the car) broke into a school that was locked with a magnetic security door.

    Oh and of course that never should have happened in the first place because everyone knows it is illegal to break into a school with guns and kill people. So that person should have followed the law like everyone else. No one breaks the law and illegally buys a firearm.

    And now onto obama. The same thing applies. Syria should not have chemical weapons because they are illegal. But of course now we use our guns to shoot at them. This sounds like president obama doesn't care about gun control when he needs guns to shoot at people.

    September 11, 2013 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  4. Bman

    I'll be the first to say, the gun control issue should be solved first before we shoot off a bunch of Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. There are a couple other issue of very pressing importance that need to be resolved before we van even talk about clearing the Syrian air defense system...

    September 11, 2013 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  5. Bman

    Lilke, the budget, and sequester.

    September 11, 2013 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  6. huh

    Why the picture of brass knuckles? Provocative and irrelevant.

    September 11, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  7. Terry

    This is not the Colorado (my home state) I lived in for 30 years. Both areas one larger than the other are not the urban or large suburban areas of the front range. This in the state of Columbine & Aurora really?! Shame on the 51% that ousted these pubic servants. Was their job performance aside this one issue worth recalling them? I seriously doubt it.

    September 11, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  8. ep tor

    As long as gun owners only kill themselves – then I'm all for the NRA.

    September 11, 2013 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  9. aiquoy

    This will set precedent for any future cases...

    September 11, 2013 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  10. MolonLabe

    I guess not all elections can be bought.

    September 11, 2013 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  11. Gioco

    "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.

    September 11, 2013 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  12. Gioco

    "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.

    From the results of the recall election, I do not think these elected officials agreed with the American people

    September 11, 2013 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  13. Anonymous

    The picture accompanying this story really displays CNN's bias; it has nothing to do with the story.
    It's another example of 'attempted' "agenda journalism." Is it any wonder why CNN continues to
    lose viewers?

    September 11, 2013 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  14. whatever

    The NRA spent 350k on advertisements that advocate 2nd amendment rights and the recall of the Morse and Giron. While anti-gun groups spent 3.2 million and still lost. Says a lot.

    September 11, 2013 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  15. Donald forry

    American people across the country are pissed and now it's taking it's toll war on D.C.

    September 11, 2013 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  16. Trery

    For once... our political system has worked..... congrats America on a victory well deserved.

    September 11, 2013 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  17. Martha

    Shameful result, but it has prompted me to give more money to Mark Kelley's & Gabby Gifford's Americans For Responsibile Solutions. The gun lobby must not be allowed to buy elections!

    September 11, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  18. Clyde Seymour

    Yea Colorado!

    Let Fredom Ring!

    September 11, 2013 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  19. tucsonterpfan

    The picture selected to accompany this story has no relation to the subject. It's a weak choice, but it clearly shows CNN's attempt at "agenda journalism."

    It's no wonder CNN continues to lose both trust and viewers.

    September 11, 2013 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  20. billybill

    What the heck does the photo displayed have to do with the story? Oh and imagine that, the people who live in a state with a long tradition of firearms use made their disappointment felt in a very sobering way for those lawmakers.

    " 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."

    Try to tamp down all you want, state lawmakers should not be passing laws that the people of their state dont want, and this is the message that was sent.

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

    If the majority of independents in your state dont support a strict gun control agenda supporting one on the state level will be disastrous for your career, as this recall showed.

    September 11, 2013 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  21. tucsonterpfan

    The picture selected to accompany this story has no relation to the subject. It only shows CNN's bias and attempt at "agenda journalism."

    Is it any wonder CNN continues to lose both trust and viewers.

    September 11, 2013 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  22. Sven

    Colorado Springs is so right-wing they barely have the tax revenue to keep their streetlight on at night. It was a small miracle a Democrat sat in that seat in the first place.

    September 11, 2013 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  23. Drewscriver

    Wait, whats wrong with limiting clips to 15 rounds, and mandatory background checks? People quibble over that?? 15 rounds is enough, and why the hell are people against background checks?? Its a good idea!!

    September 11, 2013 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  24. Stank JJ

    Liberals, the people have spoken. Time to wake up and realize that gun control only hurts law abiding citizens and makes committing crimes easier.

    September 11, 2013 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  25. Justice

    I'm glad to see it. They deserved to be booted out for voting against their constituents on such an important issue. Good riddance to both of them.

    September 11, 2013 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
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