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. M. Covey

    I am happy that people saw the writing on the wall and did something about it. An infringment on one's personal rights is an infringment no matter what it may be.

    I get a kick out of the old argument, "if you have nothing to hide, why are you fighting these laws?". Those that aspouse this type of argument really do not understand the Constitution of the United States!

    September 11, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. refuse2fail

    "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,"

    SORRY, NO kids were ever taken on stretchers. Try again. There's STILL NO FINAL REPORT on what even happened!

    September 11, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Stick

    Only 15% of Colorado Senate dist 11 voters cast a ballot, since a Libertarian candidate filed a lawsuit that somehow prevented this mostly Repulican county government from sending out mail ballots.

    September 11, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. frankieworkz

    A quote from the AP story "Reported contributions to Morse and Giron totaled about $3 million, dwarfing the amount raised by gun activists who petitioned for the recall, though some independent groups didn't have to report spending. Both the NRA and Bloomberg contributed more than $300,000 to the pro- and anti-recall campaigns."
    So stop with the NRA stole this election nonsense as it just makes you look like a Parrot!

    September 11, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Arjun

    This is what patriotism IS. The legislators ignored their constituents and got held accountable for it. The victory was even more one-sided in the more democrat populated district, what does that tell you?

    Some very important FACT that the article expectedly ignores and actually tries to lie about is that the gun control lobby and Bloomberg, dumped millions into defending these legislators, while the recall side spent less than a million, much less, in getting this done. The figures I've seen are that the anti-gun folks outspent the recall effort 11 to 1. There is NOTHING more "grass roots" than what has happened in Colorado.

    This is how it SHOULD work.

    September 11, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. jerseyguy36

    For those that say it is just a handful of voters in tw districts, I ask then why did the anti gun lobby bring in so much fire power from out of state to persuade this handful of voters to vote their way? This was more of a large Jury that listened to the pros and cons and then cast their verdict. The jury has spoken and Isupport the Verdict!

    September 11, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Just Common Sense

    We should have mental checks and waiting time before abortions and limit abortions to two children killed per mother. After all, buying a gun will NOT automatically equal a death but abortion will CERTAINLY guarantee a dead child.

    September 11, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. Maimonida

    Even if they paid this price they did good thing for Colorado. They put their personal well being in second place and right policies in first place.
    I am very proud of their accomplishments and I think they will play important role in moving country in right direction.

    September 11, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    If politicians spend as much time dealing with real mental health issues in the US, something could be done.
    Politicians have already lost that fight. The NRA lobbied for and passed a bill prohibiting mental health records to be used as part of a background check for a gun purchase. Banks perform a more throrough background check when you apply for a home mortgage, than what is done before you are able to purchase a gun.

    September 11, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. keven

    Yeah, I find it totally unreasonable to inconvenience a legitimate gun buyer to have a background check when it might save a life or two.
    Long live the Constitution !?

    September 11, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. NameLynn

    Arms weren't made illegal during or immediatly after the civil war nor during the post revolutionary pirates era of the east coast nor the NatchesTrace bandits Times in earlier US history They shouldn't be nowadays either.

    September 11, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Mike P

    I'm simply amazed at everyone on here that thinks this is about background checks. I have purchased 3 guns in the past year, one from a sporting goods store, one at a gun show and one over the internet. Each one of these purchases required a background check, so please educate yourself before posting that "gun nuts" are fighting this to prevent background checks. We already have background checks for everything but private sales...

    September 11, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Skip

    A triumph of the grassroots over the enemies of civil rights.

    September 11, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Bubba

    Bloomberg spent how much to save these people? weiner could have done as well.

    September 11, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. margie

    Grateful to those who worked so hard to see that our constitution will not be shredded by those on the left who are determined to turn us into E/ur/op/a which is failing fast.
    Thank God some common sense does remain in our US citizenry.

    September 11, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. QS

    Next thing ya know they'll do something really brilliant and allow blind people to legally carry a a bar....while standing their ground.

    So that blind citizens can also feel confident that they'll be able to protect themselves from the government and military when it comes for them....because it will come for them....blind or not, they need to be ready to fend off those jets...from a bar....while not being able to see!

    The 2nd Amendment is outdated and needs to be revised. While I believe in rights I also believe even more strongly that rights come with responsibility.

    People who oppose common sense gun control laws are nothing more than irresponsible and I do not find them patriotic....I find them irrational and reckless.

    September 11, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. c-lo


    Haha. Stay away from Colorado. What a bunch of loonies.
    Yes, Please stay away!!! I hear California is nice this (and any other time) of year!

    September 11, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Mike

    Just for those whom are saying the nra this and the nra that

    CNN failed to mention the amount of money pumped into this. The nra helped out with about 250,000 dollars for total of about 500,000 dollars for the gun rights campaign BUT Bloomberg donated 350,000 dollars for a total of 3.5 million do,Lars total backing the dems.

    This was not the nra this was the people speaking up when they were taxed with out representation. The dems in CO brought this on themselves by attacking the rights of those that do not go along with their agenda.

    September 11, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. J

    It is simple to people voiced their views. Politicians are elected to represent their constituants. They are not there to make the decision for us. This is a republic boys and girls. They just learned a lesson the rest of the politicians need to learn. I love when the systems works. Hopefully the rest of the politicians learn from this and represent the people not just their party line. As for those two who are now unemployeed good ridance.

    September 11, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Buddha Mama

    NedTaggart you wrote: "If you have nothing to hide then why are you objecting to government intrusion?" I have to say that statements like that is what creates a police state and takes away your "right" to privacy. First, just because you have nothing to hide, does not mean you want someone in your personal life. You as a human being have the right to your privacy. Second, there are some things that people have personal opinions about and feel they can tell you how to live your life if they do not like your way of life, whereby trampling on your rights and personal freedoms. By knowing your personal business, someone may feel they have a right to judge and condemn or attack you and your life, and they really do not. No one, including the government should know anything more about me than what you personally choose to share.

    The Constitution is put in place for a reason – to protect your liberties and way of life as a human being. The more people become vulnerable, the less power they have.

    I agree with having appropriate laws that balance public safety and individual freedoms. But, I disagree with any law that forces citizens to give up any fraction of their liberties for a false sense of security. They will loose both! Ben Franklin told us that and we need to take heed. The folks in CO did the right thing...they got rid of people who do not support their collective ideals and way of life according to the law. IMHO that is the big issue; everyone is going emotional and irrational and not thinking logically and legislatively. I am not even a Republican!!! But I fully agree with what CO voters did–they exercised their rights!

    September 11, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. Leonard

    TO Rosma41

    I'm from Chicago, the gun control laws that are in place here make Co. look like you don't have even one.
    Decades of corrupt politicians enacting more and more gun control on law abiding citizens. The result,
    Chicago....the murder capitol of the country,and it's citizens are virtually some homework
    on gun control and violent crime.

    September 11, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Taking rights away – will get you fired.

    September 11, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Trery

    finally.... the peoples voice are heard, the constitution is defended, and the traitors our ousted.

    September 11, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. bob

    Now if we can just get rid of the rest of the politicians who want to eliminate our rights.

    September 11, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. Mr Dalloway

    And as the country continues to lose it's mind.........

    September 11, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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