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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'] [twitter-follow screen_name='KilloughCNN']

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. Mark

    Guess Colorado hasn't had enough massacres. They pray to their false gun idols.

    September 11, 2013 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  2. Jay

    Wow what a non misleading completely fair photograph for this article. I am not drawing any connotations or getting an inkling on where the person who chose the photo stands on this issue. NOT

    September 11, 2013 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  3. Andrew

    90% of Americans wanted those laws huh dems?

    September 11, 2013 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  4. RugerFan

    HAHA! So funny. And they said it wasn't political suicide to take on gun control.

    September 11, 2013 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  5. Matthew Carberry

    Note that the astro-turf anti-gun rights side outspent the grass-roots pro-rights side 6 – 1, much of it from out of state large donors, and still lost.

    Billionaire 1%-er Bloomberg alone contributed almost exactly as much of his personal funds as the 5 million member NRA and 100k member "gun industry" the 99%, did in total.

    September 11, 2013 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  6. myself

    I like how they like to talk about the powerful gun lobby but barely acknowledge the fact that the recall effort had a budget of half a million while those apposed to the recall had a budget of 3 million dollars. I've heard money wins elections....if that is true then its going to take more than a six to one advantage for the anti gun people to win.

    September 11, 2013 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  7. Kevin

    Very glad to read that this recall succeeded. I, much like the people of Colorado, am getting very tired of watching politicians try to play off of tragic and emotional events as justification to take the rights of 80+ millions gun owners who've done nothing wrong. It's sick on their part to use such events to only further their agenda.

    September 11, 2013 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  8. Bob from Accounting

    Sign of things to come?

    September 11, 2013 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  9. Buddy

    It is nice the Constitution haters were kicked out of office. 🙂

    September 11, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  10. Ken Patterson

    This wasn't just about the gun laws, this was about the general disregard or respect of the public. He stated that owning guns was unnecessary and that those that owned the guns were :a sin on our souls". He didn't allow public testimony on the issue as long as it was against his laws and yet allowed the testimony of those that supported his side. He also openly stated that law makers did not have to listen to the general public on anything and owed them no explanation, he instructed his fellow law makers to ignore the public since they didn't know what is best for them. He pushed higher taxes, destroyed our tax rights legislation, and (among other seriously flawed laws) pushed for voter reform and redistricting across the state that is not only unconstitutional but favors democrats in voting. He is a selfish, egotistical puppet of the Bloomberg- Obama agenda!

    September 11, 2013 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  11. Oh

    The NRA still wields considerable control over the minds of some Americans. I'm actually shocked at how polarized the constituents of each party aligned themselves on this issue. I guess the gun manufacturer's lobby and organized religion make cozy bedfellows.

    September 11, 2013 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  12. Josh

    Good for Colorado. If you openly defy your voters, you deserve to be removed from office.

    Need I remind you that as a public servant, you're actually supposed to serve the public – hence the name.

    September 11, 2013 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  13. Steve in MA

    So the Gun Lobby got two out of how many senators? Oh yeah, 18 senators voted for the gun control restrictions back in March. So the gun lobby is 1 out of 9, because it couldn't get recall votes on the other 16 senators in FAVOR of gun restrictions. They may make their cherry picking recalls into some mountainous story of success, but they remain an abject failure. The laws remain the law, and their remains a majority in the Senate in support of responsible gun legislation. So stick it, NRA.

    September 11, 2013 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  14. karen jefferson

    2 down many more to follow despite the mini tyrant Bloomberg.

    September 11, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  15. Chris

    And boom goes the dynamite.

    September 11, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  16. anon

    Libs lose once again.

    September 11, 2013 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  17. Chedar

    What a sick society!

    September 11, 2013 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  18. wobbles

    No agenda here for C n n...

    What in the world does a picture of brass knuckles from the Massachusetts state police have to do with this story? Nothing, that's what. It is there to subtly imply that the people backing the recall are essentially criminals. Brass knuckles have a long time association with criminality. The propagandists/staff include the photo to subtly imply an association which in fact does not exist, but they wish to convey to reinforce their biased ideas and to unduly influence the reader. Someone took their psychology class, but apparently they didn't study up on subtlety.

    And remember, C N N says "we have always been at war with Eurasia"........

    September 11, 2013 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  19. Anonymous

    good for the people of colorado

    September 11, 2013 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  20. cbp

    Interesting that Colorado is recalling people for voting for gun control legislation. These public servants voted their conscience and certainly did not do anything which would cause them to be recalled. Does this mean that every time an elected official votes for or against an initiative they will be subject to recall? Seems as if the recall language plays to the wishes of one particular group. Our elected officials deserve better.

    September 11, 2013 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  21. AdoplhH

    Good job Colorado, boot these traitors out. Get the rest.

    September 11, 2013 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  22. Let it Be

    Thank you Colorado! Thank you for setting the example to every congressional leader on what to expect when they vote party line and not what the majority of their constituents want.

    September 11, 2013 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  23. Sean Thompson

    Absolutely outstanding. Very well done CO! Heed the warning you gun grabbing freaks. Your misguided knee jerk emotion based policy making habits are not welcome in this country.

    Long live the 2A and long live the NRA. God bless America

    September 11, 2013 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  24. Bill

    Well I guess we can expect more mass shootings in Colorado. Apparently Columbine and the Aurora movie theatre didn't
    provide enough bloodshed.

    September 11, 2013 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  25. Shannon

    Time to make this policy

    September 11, 2013 03:37 am at 3:37 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