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. The Contentious Otter

    These elections should be viewed as testament to why Democrats need to get out to the polls for elections. These recall efforts are not a sign of what the majority of people in Colorado think, they are a reflection of how much better the Tea Party is at mobilizing their voting base. So long as Democrats continue to be apathetic about getting to the polls these kinds of incidents will continue to occur.

    Democratic voters in Colorado should literally be ashamed of themselves for failing to turn out for these elections. Had their been higher voter turnout, particularly a better showing among Democrats this would not have happened.

    September 11, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. Gerry Daley

    Yet another example of so-called Second Am. rights trampling all over common sense.

    September 11, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  3. ghostwriter

    The people have spoken. But one thing you notice....or may not have noticed is that these folks lost with grace. At least in this article. No blaming the 47%, no blaming voter fraud.....

    September 11, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. Kevin

    What an F'd up state I live in. Weed on every corner right next to a gun show.

    September 11, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. John Deatherage

    The people have spoken. All office holders should remember who they represent.

    September 11, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  6. crimsoninok

    I personally dont like recall elections. I dont agree with what Liberals tried to do with Scott Walker in Wisconsin.. However, on both occasions the progressive liberals have LOST. maybe you could get a clue already.. Americans eventually will stand up and vote, its just sad that their rights have to be taken away before they will do it..

    September 11, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  7. chet

    Bloombird spent a lot of money to no avail! May be he should fly off to another roost!

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

    Even more of a victory because giron brazenly supported illegal aliens, and openly spoke of her illegal relatives. Never un derestimate the will of the people and who you represent. Yoe are obliged to represent those who elect you, not your personal agendas.

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

    most people against gun controll know they would not pass the smell test

    September 11, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  10. silencedogood20

    Good, now repeal the law.

    September 11, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. DAve

    Nanny Bloomberg and Morse still don't get it. The American people are smart enough to understand the feel good laws these two put into place do nothing to protect people from gun violence and worse infringe on their Constitutional rights. They needed to learn that quiet moderate citizens will often tolerate looney actions like banning large soft drinks but will stand and fight when you attack their rights.

    September 11, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. Aeneas

    The People have spoken.

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

    The national media and politicians think the recall was solely about gun control. The recall was about arrogant politicians who ignored their constituents. Mayor Bloomberg meddling influence on Colorado politics also worked against Morse and Giron. The recall is a lesson to progressives and altruists not to suppress liberty and the voice of the people.

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

    All americans need to stand up for there rights we are being stripped one by one. Colorado is a great state with great people thanks for doing the right thing. The people were meant to run this country not the goverment

    September 11, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  15. Christian Grey

    Come on Soundoff there is no posts and you have mine waiting on moderation for 20 minutes now...what gives

    September 11, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. Goblin King

    This is a good sign. The rest of the U.S. needs to wake up too.

    September 11, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  17. Oakspar77777

    Despite being outspent 5 million (not to recall) to .5 million (recall) and the power of incumbency, these two were tossed from office for opposing freedom.

    Once again proving that Bloomberg's billions of dollars will not let him buy tyranny over the American People.

    September 11, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  18. Data Driven

    Despite their disappointment, Morse and Giron can at least sleep at night, knowing that they acted on their principles.

    Coloradans appear to be pretty tough people, not fazed by mass shootings like Columbine and Aurora. Fine. Thank god I don't live there.

    September 11, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  19. Edwin

    The NRA gun manufacturers sent a clear message: "we are the law."

    September 11, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  20. Michael Logan

    This is not surprising. Politicians are more and more running for office on promises that they have no intentions of keeping. They can pick their tragedy of choice to promote their gun control laws, but as always, they refuse to acknowledge the real gun problem in America; the illegal ones. Every law passed is an attempt to disarm Americans who MOSTLY are law-abiding citizens. People are seeing this fact more and more. Just look at Chicago. So many murders. And so many politicians pandering for "gun control" when no amount of control will stop the murders because the weapons being used are illegal. I applaud those in Colorado who decided enough is enough. This is not what we voted for.

    September 11, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  21. Naota

    But but , according to CNN, 80% of Americans want these gun restrictions.

    Was CNN . . . *gasp* . . . lying?

    September 11, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  22. popseal

    Good! The anti gun nuts who would outlaw the means of self defense got the boot, GOOD ! Politicians wanting citizens to be unarmed are always heavily guarded by details carrying the very same equipment they'd outlaw to their constituents.

    September 11, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  23. Joe Voter

    I I guess the voters spoke; at least the ones who cared enough to vote.

    September 11, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. stormsun

    Gun control advocates don't get why Americans keep resisting their efforts to curtail gun ownership. The GOP doesn't get why Americans keep resisting their efforts to deny civil rights to the LGBT community. It's getting harder and harder to decide who to vote against these days, isn't it? Democracy is about one thing: consensus. The parties don't like consensus because all they care about is their agenda. The parties are the problem in America. That's my .02 worth.

    September 11, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Steven

    Felons and kiddy killers right to go to a gun show and buy guns and amo stays protected.

    September 11, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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