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. whta

    Some of the comments here wash away any of the credibility the anti gun left ever thought they had. I will keep my guns, thanks.

    September 11, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. WillB

    They should have seen it coming, They won't be the last to lose their jobs because of this issue, but it's their problem not anyone elses.

    September 11, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. Montucky Deluxe

    Keep crying and standing on the bodies of dead children liberals. Your tears are delicious.

    September 11, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Dave in DC

    Excellent. Get rid of the clowns. And to those of you that think differently, go live somewhere else. Seriously. We have a right to bear arms. Our forefathers knew the importance of this. Hell the Syrian rebels know the importance.

    September 11, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. Wyatt

    Brian hates gun owners because it makes a criminal's working enviornment harder and prevents him from assaulting people he doesn't agree with

    September 11, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. TonyGa

    Some are pointing to Newtown as a reason to take guns from law biding citizens. It sure would have been nice if a responsible person in the school would have been packing to put down the coward who went to a "no gun" zone to shoot women and children. When seconds count...cops are just minutes away.

    September 11, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Daisy Cutter

    Voter suppression , those evil conservatives suppressed the vote . Evil bad people , Im so mad ....

    September 11, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. Me

    You don't need a gun? You hate all guns? Next time someone breaks into your home call a crackhead to protect you...don't call police, they have guns! MORONS!

    September 11, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. florida born

    they voted ...there gone good riddance !! we want our guns were not cowards were fathers ,providers ,cops, firefighters, teachers, salesman etc if you don't like it move out of our country and fast

    September 11, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. Nyms

    Another victory. If Politicians aren't going to follow the will of the people they will be taken out of office.

    @Brian Common sense says that if you take guns away from law abiding citizens then only criminals will have them. You aren't going to remove the guns from criminals hands. So what is the average Joe supposed to do if they take away our legal guns? Turn over our property and children to you and the rest of the criminals? I don't think so I'll keep my guns. Britain's gun control laws work for them because that's the way its always been. You can't do that in the US where guns are already in public hands.

    September 11, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Karen

    Hey Brian, how about the guy in New York who got punched by a racist and died. Yeah, he wasn't a coward, didn't carry a gun, and now he's dead. I believe I'll remain a coward and continue living thank you.

    September 11, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. birch please

    When it comes to guns it is simple, all or none. Since our country is so saturated by guns the answer is obvious, anything else just protects criminals.

    September 11, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. Timb

    Common sense laws? If less than 3% of firearm related homicides involve an "assault rifle" while 72% of firearm related homicides involve a "handgun", wouldn't it make more sense to try to ban handguns since handguns clearly kill WAY more people than "assault rifles"?

    "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Read it slowly you anti gun nuts. Right of the people, NOT right of a militia. Read it again, let it soak in. Say it to yourself slowly. Say it to yourself in the mirror if you have to. Write it out.

    Just because o blame o, who lies about everything, says 90% of Americans support universal background checks and banning "standard capacity magazines", not "high capacity clips", doesn't make it true, because obviously most Americans do not support universal background checks and banning standard capacity magazine.

    Admitted it anti gun nuts, you just can't stand someone else having the ability to defend themselves against criminals and a tyrant government because you are weak, incompetent, and dependent.

    September 11, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. Joe Hates Government

    Hot the bricks, and next time, remember that Oath of Office you took. I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

    September 11, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. Paul

    The dem's response seems to be "we will not let some petty little obstacle like elections, voters, or democracy get in the way of our agenda.

    September 11, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. birch please

    When it comes to guns it is simple, all or none. Since our country has so many the answer is obvious, anything else just protects criminals.

    September 11, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. sly

    Colorado residents are not the sharpest sticks in the bunch. Outside of Denver it's all cowboys helping the sheep get over the fence.

    We'll never get a Colorado Cowboy's vote on gun control, so give up. Of course, you wouldn't get a single Colorado Cowboy's vote to legalize interracial marriage or gay marriage or allowing minorities to vote either.

    September 11, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  18. bassmaster22

    Believe it or not there are many other amendments beside this one. Amazing how many gun owners have no problem stripping those rights away from people when it serves them but 2nd amendment is untouchable. So tonight, while you sleep cuddled up against your precious gun remember what this really is about. Hint; it's not about the Bill Of Rights because you couldn't care less about those. It's about owning a gun. Get it straight.
    Yee Haw. Long live nascar and the magic sky wizard.

    September 11, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. John Nolan

    2 representatives of the people REFUSED to vote as the people they represented wished. Bye bye and good riddance. Dismiss ANY representative that does that, regardless of the issue or party affiliation. WE THE PEOPLE are getting pretty tired of self important idiots who think they know what's best for us.

    September 11, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  20. 10%

    That's what happens when hardcore selfish politiicians try to impede on people's rights and freedom they get rid of them. I applaud Colorado for being a true patriot (51%) to get rid of power mongers. It would be nice if the rest of the States wake up and do it too. Get rid of freedom and rights violators.

    September 11, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Sad Day

    Its funny how people on here are upset that other Americans used something that is afforded to all Americans, by recalling elected officials that they believe are not representing what they want. If we put them there, they should listen to what we say. I do not recall at all, any sort of vote for Obamacare, going into Iraq, or anything about the budget. And if my history is correct, it was "taxation without representation" that was one of the many reasons the American Revolution started.

    I also dont remember ever seeing any Senator or Represenitive holding any meetings with the PUBLIC and asking them what they want, or what we would like to see Congress debate and make judgement on.

    September 11, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. 10%

    That's what happens when politicians try to usurp people freedoms and rights. I applaude Colorado for their great patriotic courage. I hope that each State will wake up and legally get rid of bad blood politicians.

    September 11, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  23. KASUMU

    Shows how stupid most people are...no one is trying to take away anyone's guns. But once someone says it...all the idiots stand in line nod in agreement and shout "the right to bear arms!!!" LOL

    September 11, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. Buddy

    It is always nice to see haters of the Constitution thrown out of office.

    September 11, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. Finally

    The NRA DID NOT organize this recall effort – it began at the grass roots level – the NRA got involved AFTER it was well underway. Only then did they contribute money and the money they did contribute was FAR LESS than what Bloomberg, Broad, and their supporters contributed.

    Michael Boomberg contributed $350,000 and Eli Broad contributed $250,000 – both to help combat this recall effort.

    Stop blaming the NRA. Boomberg has more money than they NRA could ever dream of having, yet he lost.

    I'm not even an NRA member and I'm sick and tired of the government attempting to demonize gun owners simply because a few nut jobs went crazy with a gun.

    That's why Bloomberg lost this fight – he (and many others) are demonizing anyone who owns and supports gun ownership. Americans are not going to put up with it.

    Many Americans support gun bans, but the fact is that many MORE do not support it.

    September 11, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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