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. Jordan

    Colorado has begun the battle against politicians that do not listen to the voters. The rest of America NEEDS to follow!

    September 11, 2013 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  2. Zwei Stein

    Yes, 15 round magazines and background checks are certain to deny us our 2nd amendment right.

    September 11, 2013 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  3. hender1123

    Finally politicians are forced to listen to the people. In the resent past many politicians have become too comfortable with the idea of preaching a self serving sermon instead of serving the people as elected. We can only hope that this becomes an adjustment in attitude for those that we elect to public office.

    September 11, 2013 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  4. DaveW

    America deserves the laws we get. Evidently folks don't want background checks and 15 rounds in a clip isn't enough.

    September 11, 2013 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  5. Endur

    It's a great night for those that believe in gun rights and a loud message to those pols that would change them. Be warned!!!!

    September 11, 2013 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  6. MMIllard

    WE THE PEOPLE can't allow our government to continue to dictate what WE THE PEOPLE do!
    Our Politicians have created a system, where greed, power and cronyism make our
    laws. The decisions THEY have made, for WE THE PEOPLE, have all but destroyed our country.

    It's time WE THE PEOPLE put a leash on our government!!

    September 11, 2013 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  7. Kevin

    Hopefully Democrats will realize that people are more afraid of big government and the crazy people who use guns to kill people than the guns themselves which are inanimate objects which can no more harm you than a screwdriver

    September 11, 2013 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  8. Craig p

    Ruuut roooo shaggy, the progressives are in trouble.....

    September 11, 2013 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  9. JimiJoni

    I hope they throw out the rest of these bums across the remaining 49 States, particularly for sensationalizing two horrific events in order to further their agenda. The people have spoken !!

    September 11, 2013 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  10. Corncop

    Hate to see any non-Republican lose right now. Just on the fact that you will see some ideological right winger fill the office. However, any politician who ignores the will of their constituents must be held accountable. And this includes all you tea partiers and other Republicans who would retrograde states or the nation for personal political interests.

    Everybody just take a look at North Carolina. In just a few months of control, the Republicans have taken NC backwards by 50 years or more. And the new governor is politicizing more and more of state government by exempting more and more employees from civil service protections. This state is quickly devolving into a position where money buys everything including a state job, state contracts, and any good Republican politician who can grease the proverbial wheel! Thank God I am in a position where I can pick up and move out at any time. It is moving to the point where: if you are poor, unemployed, or not Republican-they simply don't want you here.

    September 11, 2013 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  11. KAG505

    Morse has no regrets. Neither do the voters who ousted him. Giron says she just does not understand why she got recalled. That is why she got recalled. Neither understood that what they were voting for was not what they were sent to the state senate to do. Politicians seem to think that after they get elected, they do not have to pay attention to anyone and just vote the way THEY WANT to vote, and just kick the voters to the curb. Well, to borrow a movie line, WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE....

    September 11, 2013 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  12. Joe Bradley

    Good start CO !!!!

    Maybe now the politicians will start to hear and follow the will of the people, doubtful. Keep an eye open for the end run, they want to control your right to protect yourself.

    Gun owners, please recommit yourselves to gun safety, take a refresher course on gun safety just to guard against complacent behavior and accidents. Please don't let your ego or attitude of "I already know about gun safety.." prevent you from refreshing your safety mindset.

    September 11, 2013 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  13. Dude..

    Bloomberg needs to hurry up an croak before he ruins this country

    September 11, 2013 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  14. Andrew

    How many people have to die before we get wise. The 2nd amendment was not intended for this.
    If guns don't kill people people kill people, than guns don't protect people, people protect people.

    September 11, 2013 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  15. Larry

    I cant believe any moron takes the nra seriously enough for something like this to have worked.

    September 11, 2013 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  16. mike

    it appears people are more concerned about their 2nd amendment rights than their first

    September 11, 2013 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  17. Dean

    I like how brass knuckles are shown in the picture, and yes, that was sarcasm. The voters in Colorado actually echo the sentiments of more than just Colorado, and gun-owners in other states support you!. The recall for Giron is a great reminder that 2nd Amendment rights are not party specific, especially given the large concentration of Democrats in her district. EAT IT GUN-GRABBERS, and you too BLOOMBERG.

    September 11, 2013 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  18. DanTman

    The constitution marches on.

    September 11, 2013 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  19. Nick Pettinato

    I only wish we could get rid of Feinstein here in California in the same manner. Good job, Colorado!!!

    September 11, 2013 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  20. M.A.P.

    What an absolute shameful day for america. After all the deaths and all the pain and misery, the selfish gun toting rednecks win again. Shame, shame SHAME!

    September 11, 2013 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  21. mark

    Funny how in a mostly democrat district in pueblo Giron lost by over 5,000 votes and at the same time the election was going on there were plenty of out of town cars with out of town plates on them. A local reporter showed how easy it was to fraudulently vote in in this election all he had to do was say he was renting a room in town and that pretty much gave him the right to vote. When I voted they didn't even want to see my I'd. One other thing a few people came forward that got election ballods that didn't even live in district 3. I think there was massive voter fraud and manipulation because the springs senator only lost by 500 votes and that is a conservative city. This is a massive injustice to a minority and mainly Democrat district.

    September 11, 2013 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  22. penguin

    The recall doesn't surprise me one bit. The whole world knows we are a nation of stupid people who, on average, is incapable of rational, critical thought

    September 11, 2013 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  23. Jgomez

    The people have spoken, good. Love to see people coming together to show law makers that at the end of the day, they pay their salaries.

    September 11, 2013 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  24. JJ

    More to follow...........

    September 11, 2013 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  25. Merle McClung

    Those Colorado voters sold their votes to the monied interests in the gun industry represented by the NRA. Soon, elections or recalls or any other form of democracy will be lost out to those who can buy the laws they want.

    September 11, 2013 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
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