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. Gurgyl

    Total Gun-Ban is needed in USA. Period. Constitutional right is lobbied, bribed, set forth in that constitution by NRA thugs then. Get the hach out of it. Remove this postitulate on.

    September 11, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  2. terryrayc

    Good, For once the people were allowed to have a voice and they gave Liberal Gun Control Nuts the finger.

    September 11, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  3. Gurgyl

    Total Gun-Ban is needed in USA. Period. Constitutional right is lobbied, bribed, set forth in that constitution by NRA thugs then.

    September 11, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  4. terryrayc

    Freedom loving America's 1, Liberal Gun Control Nuts ZERO.

    September 11, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  5. Cooler

    The "right to bear arms" thing is way out of date! Guns were needed in the late 1700s and the 1800s until we became a civilized nation; the average citizen in the year 2013 does not need a gun.

    September 11, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  6. kenweil

    Well I will say it. It is about time the gun control nuts got booted. Banning magazine capacities over 15 will not reduce violence in this country. Going after the criminal element will.

    September 11, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    USA needs Gun-Ban Laws. Take off from constitution. Draconian right–remove.

    September 11, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  8. Stan

    So in other words Bloomberg and the other anti-gun folk will continue to ignore the voting public and continue to try and force their minority views on us.

    September 11, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    Gun-ban Laws needed in America.

    September 11, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  10. dr. vinny boombotts

    We Americans....we sure love our guns, don't we?

    September 11, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Now, if the NRA can just get CO to pass a law to allow the blind and sex offenders to have guns, they can become West Iowa.

    September 11, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  12. scranton

    The people have spoken.

    September 11, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  13. Mark

    The people have already spoken before this. Dont mess with our civil liberties.
    If you spent half the time cracking down on crime you did on this agenda, it would be reduced by half. But no, millions wasted for nothing. Again.

    Guns dont kill people. People kill people.
    Gun owners dont kill people, criminals kill people.

    September 11, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  14. SteveinLVNV

    This recall should serve as a message to politicians everywhere... If you vote for stricter gun restrictions and laws, your job could be in jeopardy of a recall, just like these two.

    September 11, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  15. John

    "The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, which helped mount the recall effort, also celebrated the results as a major milestone."

    The NRA gave not a single monetary contribution to the funds being gathered for the victims of the mass shootings in Aurora or Sandy Hook. They sent no official notice of condolences to the families of the victims as well.

    But they did establish a drive for the NRA political victory fund.

    The day that someone from the NRA crosses onto my property to come pounding on my door for collections, they will instantly realize the unfortunate irony of fighting so jealously for my right to bear arms.

    September 11, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  16. Frank Miller

    The people have spoken. I hope the politicians are listening.

    September 11, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  17. Paul LeBlanc

    Sheriffs' departments of northern Colorado counties that are also courting secession from the state have openly stated that they will not enforce the new gun laws. It will be interesting to see if the state's party status turns from blue to red. These were not major changes to gun laws. The NRA is a vindictive viper to mess with.

    September 11, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  18. ScottC

    It is hilarious and telling that they won't let people comment. Fine. What needs to be said HAS been said. Loud and clear.

    September 11, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  19. Greg Clapton

    Now to is the time to get rid of the Democratic Governor and Senators!

    September 11, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  20. Sara

    I like how there are gun control "supporters" and gun rights "activists". Bias much?

    September 11, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  21. Pineal

    Only in America- not only do I want my guns I also don't want anyone asking me if I am stable enough to have a gun! Hopefully all the loonies will end up killing each other!

    September 11, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  22. Name

    Good job Colorado

    September 11, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  23. Jack N. Hoffman

    And so it goes....... Not quite certain what the voters were tasked to do.

    September 11, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  24. Christian Grey

    Congratulations Colorado common sense has prevailed

    September 11, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  25. Thomas

    "the gun laws are still in place in Colorado, despite the lawmakers' ouster"

    A very good point. Changing the law, if that's what the citizens want, is the important step.

    September 11, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45