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. Derek

    Colorado... the state where people want guns inside movie theaters and schools, despite history...
    Maybe the legalized weed will chill everyone out a little bit

    September 11, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    No one ever said the NRA isn't the most powerful lobbyist group in America. I'd like to think the two who were recalled voted their conscience. A politically novel ideal in America and an idea that won't go any further in this particular reign of media induced bickering. Gun control just isn't going to happen ... not in this current atmosphere of American politics.

    While the media has spent the past 5 years touting the Republican base of fanatics as an up and coming wing of the Republican party, it shut out moderates in BOTH party's.

    September 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. Bman

    This is what happens when politicians don't listen to the people they represent, but instead move forward their own personal agenda. It should send a very clear message to all politicians, whether Dem or Rep, that the majority will be heard and the majority should rule.

    September 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. Mike B

    During the black forest fires, some friends had to evacuate their home. They made several trips moving things over a period of about 2 days. In one trip they moved their guns from their home to mine, and stored their guns securely in my safe. If that had happened after July, the guns would have almost certainly stayed unsecured in their car, as we would not have been likely to waste precious time going through the hassle and expense of obtaining the completely pointless background checks.

    These gun laws are mindless and irresponsible. They discourage proper behavior, and do nothing to reduce rates of criminal or violent behavior.

    September 11, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. so_ill

    "According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, voters in the state opposed the gun laws by a margin of 54%-40%." Pay attention, politicians. This recall gives me hope.

    September 11, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. Rufus

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Bloomberg.

    September 11, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. billmosby

    NRA was outspent about 10 to 1 by the opposition, and still won.

    September 11, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Bonny

    "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"

    Of course they left out the fact that $3 million was spent by the anti-gun left to defend them and only around $500k was spent on getting them recalled. CNN wouldn't want their preferred party to look like they got destroyed even with a massive cash advantage. Pathetic.

    September 11, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. ralphfromMiami

    Someone please explain to me why universal background check is a bad thing?

    September 11, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Goblin King

    The Democrat tears in these comments is delicious.

    September 11, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. pat carr

    What ignorance, blaming the NRA. You don't even know anything about the organization, except what the media feeds to you. Time for you to graze.

    Keep drinking the dem's and media koolaid though, i am sure you love the flavor now. The people spoke and they are recalled. Dan, don't ever join the NRA< why would they want someone so spineless. Make sure to lock away your guns so you don't hurt yourself

    September 11, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Brad

    AHAHAHA!!! LMFAOTTB!!!! Take that liberalnutjobberseverywhere!

    September 11, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Goblin King

    @TLORop "There's another state I wont be going to."

    I am sure no one want your sorry @ss there anyway.

    September 11, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. brennus

    "The new laws in Colorado, which took effect in July, limit firearm ammunition magazines to 15 rounds"

    Hahahaha, good luck with that one. People who don't know anything about firearms making laws about firearms equals nonstop comedy.

    September 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Mobi

    Hey DAN, The US is NOT a democracy. It is a republic.

    September 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. neastsider

    The NRA has a tighter strangle hold on state and local governments more than any communist dictatorship ever could. Most likely the NRA also secretly gave lessons to Assad in Syria on how to control his population by subjugation and intimidation.

    September 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. Spike

    Anyone notice the other CNN story headline "White man's death a hate crime?"...notice the question mark........a guy yells "i'm gonna kill the next white guy that walks by".......MAY be a hate crime...really CNN? Travon Martin case, some 2 second garbled recording, where Zimmerman described the kid as black, after he was asked to describe Martin.....CNN's reaction...omg, this is awful, the worst hate-crime ever, he is definitely racist....Really Cnn....come on now...really?

    September 11, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. RDH

    The gun owners you need to worry about are the clowns in washington threating other nations with drones and cruise missles.

    September 11, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. Tony

    I hope this sends a message to other lawmakers that enacting worthless gun restrictions is political suicide whether you're republican, democrat, independent, or other. It doesn't mater which party you represent, a MAJORITY of Americans SUPPORT the 2nd Amendment and will NOT tolerate to have our rights stomped upon!

    September 11, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. truth hurts but reality bites

    It is wonderful to see the people of Colorado stand up for their Constitutional rights and hold their elected officials accountable for their actions. If these elected representatives do not represent the people that put them in office the way they should, then this is what they should get, THE BOOT. Elected officials should not be pushing their own personal agenda when the people that vote for them do not support that agenda.

    Way to show the country how to do it Colorado!! Dang, we are PROUD of you people right now!!

    September 11, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. TLORop

    John verify your facts. The coroner said all the victims were shot with the same gun. The sheriff himself said the assault weapon was found with the body and every victim was shot with the .223. You've been fooled by an internet hoax. I hope in the future you would check the source of your information better.

    September 11, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. What

    @Dan. You do realize that Bloomberg and other pro gun control groups out spent anti group including the NRA by 7:1 margin. This was not a NRA victory, but people being tired of having crap shoved down their throats against their will.

    September 11, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. cajr

    glad to see this happened. another example of libs thinking they know whats better for you. they don't. and this vote shows it. people in Colorado need to vote democrats out of the legislature and the governors slot to ensure these stupid laws cant be enacted.

    September 11, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. Marc

    The death of a child by a 'bullet' is horrendous indeed, but I pray more people would be as outraged by the 1.25 million innocent unborn that are being slaughtered in this country everyday.

    September 11, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  25. Terry

    Wow...people see the NRA and go batty beyond reason. This was not just the NRA but also citizens who are fed up with the PC police and their policies. NO I am not NRA nor will I ever be but I am a citizen who believes in gun ownership without restrictions for those of us who are lawful abiding citizens.

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