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. Logic N LA

    What grounds for recall did they have? How can the will of those that voted them in be taken back so easily? If that is how our governments works, why have terms at all. I'm getting more tired of the NRA and conservatives everyday.
    Not a Christian or logical person among them. It's 1600's New England all over again with these witch hunts.

    September 11, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. mogran

    Good, now vote out or throw out all the rest of the anti-gun nuts using children for an excuse

    September 11, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Brian

    Only cowards carry guns. We should have strong gun control. If you need a gun to protect your family than you don't even deserve to have family. Its pathetic to carry a gun. Don't call yourself a man if you carry a gun. You carry one because you know you are a joke and a coward. Gun control would have prevent that Zimmerman pile of garbage from killing somebody. If he didn't have that gun that coward doesn't even get out of the car. Colorado is beyond stupid. What is it going to take another school shooting to wake this stupid state up along with all the other idiots. Do the world a favor and take your gun and stick in your mouth and pull the trigger. The world will be a better place once all these gun carrying cowards are dead. Sorry little pu_____.

    September 11, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. Don

    how about no backgrond checks ..and everyone gets issued a gun ....the division in this country widens ..I 'm a liberal don't like it ...too bad

    September 11, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Michael

    Dummycrats better start paying attention to what the people want instead of what their party platform wants. People don't like their freedoms taken away!

    September 11, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. sammy750

    OMG the NRA certainly is white washing the 2nd Amendment. Brainwashing the stupid.

    September 11, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Larry

    More of the same from crazy guntoting lunatics. Blaming Democrats for all of the American gun insanity won't wash. You people have already lost your freedom and all the firearms in the world will not bring it back.The gene pool is hopelessly polluted by ignorant slugs that think killing things is how life should be.

    September 11, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Frank

    I noticed every single comment that is ALLOWED to stay is a liberal / progressive communist comment. Not one positive comment allowed by this liberal website in favor of the 2nd amendment. Imagine that.

    September 11, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. Tammy lambert

    This entire thing sounds supicious, I believe gun control probably got personal in this state. There should be an investigation, This recall sounds rigged, unless there are really that many people in Colorado who enjoy blood sports.

    September 11, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. Shawn

    Listen people.....You can't punish the innocent for the acts of the criminal, if that was the case then all you parents with kids that get into trouble would be held accountable for their actions, but can go that way if that is what you wish...

    T.. you would be out of a country

    I think America should be like Switzerland, everyone owns a gun and has the lowest gun crime rate in the world...
    We all see what gun controlled countries look like, look at mexico.....

    September 11, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. here and back again

    No surprise there...but they (the pro-gun) lobby is living their last few years of power. Every massacre leads to a few more people changing their view.

    September 11, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Shawn

    TC.. I will keep my God and guns... you can keep your wacko ideas of a gun free country, if you choose to want a gun free country mexico is to the south.....

    September 11, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Informed

    Yeah – a majority of Coloradans in two districts who bothered to vote are more swayed by the propaganda of the NRA than they are by common sense. They should be SO proud to be such nincompoops.

    September 11, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Francisco

    The two lawmakers lost their job fighting for whats right. They are heroes.

    September 11, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. El Duce

    This is what happens when you attempt to take our guns. Keep it up fascists.

    September 11, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Well, like they say about Syria, let them continue to kill themselves.
    Evidently the death of innocent children means more if they are from Syria or any other country than if they are our own kids.
    Go blow your brains out so that you can die with your dead cold hands wrapped around your precious guns.
    You can't make this up follks.

    September 11, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Robert Kan

    It is a sad result, once again showing the NRA is a dangerous organization, which can only be compared to the Ku Klux Klan

    September 11, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. Josh

    Brian- "Only cowards carry guns... If you need a gun to protect your family than you don't even deserve to have family. Its pathetic to carry a gun. Don't call yourself a man if you carry a gun. You carry one because you know you are a joke and a coward."

    *Insert picture of Police Officer here*
    *Insert picture of Military GI here*
    *Insert picture of Navy SEAL here*
    *Insert picture of Marine here*
    *Insert picture of Delta Force here*
    *Insert picture of Ranger here*
    *Insert picture of Green Beret here*

    You get the picture... 😉 Brian, since you seem to have stones the size of boulders then I guess you would never need a gun, but not all of us can be as god-like as you. Enjoy your immortality.

    September 11, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. Bill

    What a fearful bunch of wimps.
    Fear trumps children's rights... Disgusting.

    September 11, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Tom

    "But gun rights activists and gun control supporters nationwide saw ..."

    Is this unbiased reporting? Why not "gun rights supporters and gun control activists nationwide..." ?????

    Come on CNN, you can do better than this...

    September 11, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. Stupid

    The goverment should probably take all guns out of American hands because they will more than likely use it in a massacre. And while they are at it, they should just kill all muslims because they are more than likely terrorists.

    September 11, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. Bubba Ray

    I believe in freedom and liberty to whatever you like, as long as I am in favor of it.
    Signed, Typical Gun Nut

    September 11, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Brian you are an idiot....tell the guy in Connecticut that had to watch his wife and daughters get raped and then burned..if he is a are nothing but an imbecile.

    September 11, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. SolDeus

    Let this be a lesson to other snakes that would like to infringe on the 2nd amendment.

    September 11, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. Roland

    To really have an effect on gun crime you need to ban all firearms,in the case of the USA you need a war on guns to basically drain the swamp , there are more guns floating around in the USA then there are people.Limiting magazine capacity doesn't work 15 bullets vs 30 or however many just means you havevto reload a bit more as you are mowing down infants or school children or church goers.Having unrestricted sales of firearms in one state and not the other also means you have a constant stream of "illegal" firearms coming into the state.So whatever ban should be federal and go for all states.

    September 11, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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