September 11th, 2013
01:20 AM ET
9 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. morrie

    Colorada beware the only thing republicans want to regulate are women. That's how they were able to fool people into voting for them, they promised jobs jobs jobs and all we got was abortion, redefinition of rape and making Birth Control less available.

    September 11, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. contrarian

    As long as Democrats and/or Republicans voice support for ineffective, feel-good legislation while ignoring the enforcement of existing laws and continue to ignore common sense care and treatment for the mentally damaged, citizens are right in removing them from office as they do not represent what America needs.

    September 11, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Might Nine

    Most people killed by guns are friends or relatives of the gun owner (many are their children). Have fun with the heartbreak and misery, Colorado!!!

    September 11, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. EdC

    Well Done Colorado! Now get a responsible government in office that remembers who they work for.

    September 11, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. pmavv

    GOOD JOB COLORADO!!! Now maybe the rest of the country will wise up as well.

    September 11, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. just saying

    excellent news. the american people have enough of this left wing insanity that targets law abiding citizens gun rights whenever some mentally deranged person does something wrong. do we start pulling the licenses of everybody that drinks alcohol because there are drunk drivers out there? hopefully this trend will continue in 2014 and we can get rid of many more leftist democrats that are more interested in protecting criminals than jailing them.

    September 11, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |

    Hilarious. CNN must of had a very hard time even reporting this.

    September 11, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. tony

    Guns are great for drive by shootinmgs and killing victims who would otherwise lock themselves safely in their cars.

    How would we have the pleasure of these extra crimes without them?

    September 11, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. jln9301

    We Colorado natives are sick and tired of the BS from outsiders. This is a prime example and a good start. There will be more to follow. To the Californians that have come here I say this, your stupidity will no longer be tolerated here. If you want to change something take your sorry a$$ back to california and fix what you screwed up there we don't need or want you here!!!!!!!

    September 11, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. TLORop

    There's another state I wont be going to.

    September 11, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. Aerokid

    @ Terry, if its important to their consituents and their constiuents said they didn't want the laws then they didn't do their jobs. Their jobs are to represent those who voted for them. They failed ot do that job. So they were fired. Only if we could do this for all the 535 in DC...

    September 11, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. pauly

    OBAMA care is next

    September 11, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. DustyOnes

    Good....hunting and most importantly jobs are back in Colorado

    September 11, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. HenryMiller

    Good old CNN—if the recall had failed, it would have been their lead story.

    September 11, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. Tracy

    What people are failing to remember, elected officials are supposed to represent thier constituents – not their personal agendas. Both deserved to be removed since they disregarded their constituency blatantly and did thier own thing. The used thier seat to push thier own agendas and push thier own moral values on thier constituency. If people across the country would hold thier representatives accountable, the voice of the people would truly be heard. I find it interesting how they mention the NRA "poured" money into this (around $350K) but failed to mention that Mayor Bloomberg also poured money into this on the pro gun side (also $350K).

    September 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. Robyn

    Now the NRA will be able to rejoice in the blood of more innocent children's murders.
    They must be preparing to offer up sacrifices to their Lord Satan to pay for their victory.

    September 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. rc

    When elected officials do not listen to the people they work for they should be fired just like any other employee.

    September 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. just asking

    you just have to love this!! the republicans took a page right out of the leftists union democrat's playbook (can you say wisconsin?) and used it against them!! they actually succeeded where the lefitst democrats failed. it is clear the american people are started to turn against these country and freedom destroying democrats and their endless attacks on our second amendment constitutional rights. let's continue to flush these people in 2014 and get this countyr back on track!

    September 11, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. An Opinion

    Democracy may not be pretty but it beats every other form of government tried so far!

    Whenever the results are so close (51-49) we probably should be thinking that polarization and extremes isn't the way to go. Maybe more dialogue, compromise and focus on people rather tha laws can be the answer. Since both Columbine and Aurura werre committed by "law breakers" I doubt either would have been prevented or avoided by new laws. While they make politicians feel good, new laws generally don't show leadership at the people level.

    September 11, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Michael

    I think the greater issue here is representatives and senators from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party no longer listen to their constituents. Once elected, these officials start pushing their own agenda which may or may not have the support from the people they were elected to represent. This is a problem with the Two Party system. I would suggest most of us no longer fit into the mold of Democrat or Republican. There are so many issues today which blur the party lines. Recently, both parties have had to go through recall elections. Some of the recalls have worked and others have not. But we should not be put into a situation where our representatives do not listen to us because we do not believe what they believe. Our representatives are elected to make sure our voice is heard in the State and Federal systems. Thank you for letting me participate in this forum.

    September 11, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. jack

    To Reasonablebe- actually they did do something wrong, they voted either their concious or the party line. Their job is to represent their constinuents and by judgining the recall votes, it was not what the majority wanted. That is after all, what our goverment is supposed to be about. These laws are knee-jerk reactions to situations and will do nothing to get to the root of the problem. Based on your rational than if someone should kill someone in an auto accident, all citizens should somehow be penelized, since 35,000 plus people die each year by auto. Does'nt make sense.

    September 11, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. CaptD

    If the wild west was so good, why did every state move away from every citizen walking around with a gun on them? What reasonable person would be against background checks for every gun transaction. If you are against background checks then do you feel the person who sold the gun to the crazy person who shoots up the theater should be responsible since they should have known the person trying to buy the gun was mental. Why does anyone need more than 15 bullets per clip. This country is in a battle over who laws should affect. People who live in rural areas use firearms for different reasons than those in urban areas, the problem is that both want absolutes when it comes to laws. States might have to start making laws that affect one area different than another area. It's amazing how crime across the country has actually been going down over the past 10 years and you have people trying to return the country to the 1800's!

    September 11, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. Donna

    why cant this happen in Maryland?

    Too many leftist Democrats. Start flsuhing them one by one until you get your rights back.

    September 11, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. LouAZ

    Mob Rule. Public lynching in the Town Square will be next, brought (bought) to you by the NRA.

    September 11, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. tannim

    I live between the two districts and both of them had to go. Despite claims to the contrary, it wasn't about only guns. It was really about honoring their oaths of office and representing their constituents and passing very bad legislation.

    For the rabid anti-gun commenters on here, get a clue and realize that we do not abdicate our rights to defend ourselves or own or use private property!

    September 11, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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