September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
10 years 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.

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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. Thinkergal

    ps: No, I don't live in Boulder; I'm in the northern part of Colorado Springs.

    September 11, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. Michael

    Be careful of what you ask for ... you might just get it. I hopw that those that voted for the recall never have to bury their own child. This is the first time I've heard of a recall for something as childish as the NRA not getting their way the first time around. Sad day ...

    September 11, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. JF Spurlock

    Two down, lots more losers to go...

    September 11, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  4. Getoverit

    This is what happens when a politician goes against the will of the people. Are you watching, Mr, President?

    September 11, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  5. David Hummel

    This is a major headline on Fox News. You really have to search for it here on CNN. Hmmmmmm.

    September 11, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  6. tylor2

    Dem's take note, your walking papers are in the mail.

    September 11, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. textee

    Love how America haters like loser Bloomberg spent several million dollars getting their severed heads handed to them. Also, love how all of the leftist Super PACs like ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, et al., spent millions pimping for the two defeated America haters!

    September 11, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  8. Chris

    Well done, Colorado!

    September 11, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  9. John

    It's not about Democrats and Republicans. It's about the people and we're sick and tired of the politicians ignoring what we want. It's about time we started recalling a few more of these self-serving, egotistical folks.

    September 11, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  10. robert

    way to go Colorado. kudo's to you for standing up for your rights. by the way I am a registered democrat. but I stand with you. again congrats.

    September 11, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  11. S&W

    Good riddance. Please tell me why it's ok to provide weapons to known terrorists in one hand while restricting firearms possession from law-abiding American citizens.

    September 11, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. Mel

    Apparently, Emperor Bloomberg's agenda is not playing well in the heartland of America or in New York City.

    September 11, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  13. Realityblowz

    Shells...brass knuckles???? Nice lead in photo. Has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Excuse me CNN, your bias is showing. You would think that this news story in and of itself would prove to you that your bias is ill suited, and costing you loss of income from disenfranchised readers on your site.

    September 11, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  14. cj

    Democrats are ruining this country

    September 11, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  15. The fact of the matter

    Depriving law abiding citizens of their right to bear arms will not protect law abiding citizens. Why don't gun control advocates understand this VERY simple concept?

    September 11, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  16. David Hummel

    More importantly for electoral purposes, a majority of independent voters opposed the laws, 56%-39%. This is what happens to lawmakers who forget they are there to represent the people. Obamacare supporters will be next!

    September 11, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  17. BrianH

    Those of you pacifist liberal democrats who scream, scream, scream that guns are so evil, despite the 2nd Amendment, keep this in mind.

    Those of us who were born/raised with guns, and brought up to respect our firearms, with firearm safety as paramount, and mastery of our weapons being of foremost importance.....we are the experts who grow up to protect your President, Vice President, Elected Officials; your towns and cities, your country. We are the members of SWAT, the Marine Corps, the Police, etc., etc. Show me a country who's citizens are bread to fear guns, to cry against firearms, to be utterly passive and I will show you a country who has no competent SWAT team members, no competent infantry, no competent Secret Service. We, the ones in uniform, have loved our guns from a ripe early age and we are experts at what we do. Legislate our guns away and within three generations you'll have a police force who cannot shoot straight, a SWAT team that can only 'shout' at the perps, and a military that would rather talk to the enemy instead of fearlessly shooting them.

    I will never understand the extreme pacifism of liberal democrats. Not unless God himself conquers all evil in the world. Even still, I like target shooting.

    September 11, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. Dr Tom

    Nowhere in this article is there any indication of voter turn out. Typical CNN incomplete reporting.

    September 11, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. BigD

    They will be removing legal pot laws too.

    September 11, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. bill39

    Former State Senators Morse and Giron have been ousted, but they were on the upward path. I offer them my respect and best wishes.

    Re. the voters of Colorado. The 51% have achieved their goal, but I regret that their lives are such that they feel dependent on guns. My thanks to the 49% who supported these legislators who voted for a reasonable and helpful gun control law. I hope there will be future victories for you folks.

    September 11, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Dave - Phx

    Hilarious, the people of this country worship the dollar, guns, and hatred. Iowa just passed a law allowing blind people to carry guns. Americans have no intelligence.

    September 11, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  22. draeggo

    The voters of this state dared to do as they pleased. That will make thought control libs very angry. Going to be a lot of crying now.

    September 11, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. scieng1

    The people spoke clearly. Those who favored heavy-handed government control lost. The issue still remains whether restrictive laws are useful in preventing crime, or do they simply make it easier to catch some people after a crime is committed. Like the pot laws in Colorado, most of those voters have decided that heavy-handed laws are not worth having.

    September 11, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  24. Alina77

    I hate when out of state groups pouring money to choose THEIR candidate.. When this is happens THEIR candidate almoust always wins, that's what happened is Wisconsin as well.

    September 11, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  25. 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 "gimmee my free stuff" people, i.e. looters and moochers.

    September 11, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
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