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. steve:

    There is a reason we have a representative democracy (republic). The general population is I'll informed and generally stupid.

    September 11, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. jeff

    @Dan
    "shows how big and powerful the NRA is"

    The NRA/pro-gun side was OUTSPENT 10-1.

    September 11, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. Paul

    It is so sad that the people of my state care more about their stupid guns than the safety of their children. For a change, these politician tried to pass some common sense legislation to make Colorado safer and this is what happens. And I thought Colorado was beginning to come out of the dark ages.

    September 11, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. Wilson

    Some are waking up. Though I fear it is, "to little, to late," to save the country. There are still way to many koolaide drinkers and "gimme my free stuff" people, i.e. looters and moochers.
    $

    September 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Allen R.

    Yet when the people of Wisconsin tried recalling Gov. Walker for doing things they didn't agree with, the Right wingers cried and screamed that he was voted in and everyone just has to deal with it and a recall was a waste of money and wrong on every level. Hypocrites.

    September 11, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. MaryM

    The NRA thinks they won, but WE will recall Republican Bernie Herpin and Republican George Rivera. THe NRA will NOT controll our Government

    September 11, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. MDJ1

    Imagine that... a representative losing his/her job for not listening to the people he/she was elected to represent?! Holy Democracy Batman!

    September 11, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. whit

    Meanwhile, as hackers are busy stealing your money and identity, you are worried about your gun. These gun owners are no better than the people in the Middle East. All they think about is killing people. Secondly, The American voter should be ashamed of the people they have put into office.

    September 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Eli Cabelly

    Congratulations, Colorado. Your people have listened to the voice of the NRA.

    September 11, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Illinois

    People always say "If you don't like the elected leaders you have, then just vote 'em out." I never believed the vote matters. But I am wrong. It is good to see the system still works. I don't have a gun, or want one. This recall vote outcome is much bigger than that issue. If your local politicians are not doing what you hired them to do, then fire 'em. This is America at it's best.

    September 11, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Brian L

    I love all the Liberals coming in and complaining about the evil NRA. THE PEOPLE of COLORADO chose these people to be elected leaders. The leaders failed to represent THE PEOPLE in the way they wanted them to. THE PEOPLE voted them out. Even in the highly democratic state like Colorado THE PEOPLE choose to protect the second amendment. The democratic process clearly worked here as THE PEOPLE struck down their elected officials.

    September 11, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    QUESTION: If the solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, then why on Earth is the NRA against laws to stop their bad guys from getting guns in the first place? Is their some sort of mental contortions going on here?

    ANSWER: Because the NRA's goal isn't to serve as a club for weekend hunters. Nor is it the NRA's goal to help people protect their second amendment rights. Take a look at who makes up their board of directors and NRA's true goal becomes immedately apparent.

    The board is comprised of owners and top executives of companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, all of them. There's not a weekend warrior or average NRA member in the bunch. Their goal is to sell, sell, sell, guns and ammo. Laws that restrict or control how people from buy guns means only one thing to them. They would sell less product, and less product sold means less profit.

    September 11, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. shawn

    No gun ownership means we become slaves to the state!

    September 11, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. Lurker

    2 down , more to go

    September 11, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Lindsey

    Politicians have spun the truth for so long that citizans no longer count on them to be credible. That leads to third party groups gaining an advantage. Have an honest, healthy debate and get an honest, healthy response from the citizenry. Jockey for position, and so will the citizenry. They'll rely on third party's who have their own agenda rather than elected officials whose only agenda should be to represent the citizens.

    September 11, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. The Lost Surveyor

    Perhaps this is a lesson for those who seem to think that people will give up their guns without a fight. You don't like conservative views foisted on you. Why do you insist on foisting liberal values on others? I'm a moderate and I think both sides are completely nuts. That said. Let me tell you this. Be glad this was Colorado and not Texas. Right or wrong, I know folks down there that are arming for a civil war. 100% due to your actions. I don't think you realize what you are instigating.

    September 11, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. Tony D

    "YOU'RE FIRED!"

    The voters (aka The Boss) say to the elected officials that choose not to represent their interests but instead the interests of leftist anti-gun advocates. I am feeling hopeful this can sweep across the country and take a lot more of these clwons out of office.

    September 11, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  18. Winston Smith

    Inmates take over asylum. Film at eleven.

    September 11, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. futureman1

    My 20 year old college son just spent four weeks of the summer working in Colorado Springs and he told me when he got back that he had never seen so many ignorant hicks in his life.. I did not know what he was talking about because I thought Colorado was pretty hip. Now I get it.

    September 11, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. Don

    Being ousted from office for standing up for what you believe is not a victory for pro gun control advocates. It's a clear message of where America, and especially Colorado, is at in terms of morality. I say hats off to those that are willing to sacrifice their jobs for the common good.

    September 11, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  21. Publius Novus

    Slaughters at Littleton and Aurora. I hope Colorado voters remember this the next time people kill kids and teens with guns. And there will be a next time.

    September 11, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Gurgyl

    Pass gun-ban laws.

    September 11, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. bobo

    This is why you cannot make new Laws based on EMOTION! You wind up hurting law abiding citizens....

    September 11, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. dc

    Obama's Executive order bans military weapons that were exported from other countries from being brought back into this country. That referes to M1 Garands and M1 carbines, neither of which is used for holdups, drive-bys or mass killings. Have you ever heard of a 7-11 held up with either of these? No, they are collector items, and not even shot a lot by their owners. I wonder who doesn Obama's reasearch to make such non-common-sense decisions??? By the way, Full auto M-16s and easy to make full auto M-14s have been banned for years.

    If you want a new law, why not make it an automatic mandatory 10 years with no parole added to the sentence of anyone convicted of committing a crime with a firearm?

    September 11, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. Democrat Gun Grabbers Take Notice

    Don't Tread on Us.... we know our rights, both gun and voting. And we're coming out to vote in 2014 like never before.

    September 11, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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