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. Joe Bradley

    Politicians don't seem to learn the easy way....

    September 11, 2013 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  2. JustinFromNJ

    I'm glad that the citizens of Colorado have stood up for their Second Amendment rights. The "feel-good" laws passed because of emotions, not logic, and will do nothing to lower violent crime in Colorado.

    September 11, 2013 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  3. Matt

    The majority of the voters opposed these laws when they were proposed. These two politicians ignored their constituents and voted their own interests instead. They both forget that they are servants of the people, not masters of the people.

    Good job, Colorado, reminding our elected SERVANTS that it is our will, not theirs, that matters.

    September 11, 2013 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  4. mmmkay


    "According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, voters in the state opposed the gun laws by a margin of 54%-40%"

    Politicians are supposed to be the voice of the people. They went against what the people wanted, so they should have been recalled.

    September 11, 2013 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  5. MAC

    Both these state senators ran as moderate pro gun democrats, they liied to voters and ended up voting as liberal anti gun democrats.

    September 11, 2013 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  6. Kris L

    1) Everyone knows Democrats do not turn out as much in this small elections, off-year elections (yet another reason Republicans like them).

    2) RECALLS LIKE THIS ARE WRONG! I lived in California when Grey Davis was recalled (for no valid reason) and in Wisconsin for Scott Walker winning a recall (for no valid reason). These two recalls were for no valid reason. Boo-hoo, they voted for something you didn't like. VOTE THEM OUT IN THE NEXT ELECTION. Save recalls for what they were meant to be, a mechanism to remove a politician who has done something wrong/illegal but cannot be forcibly removed because the crime isn't covered in the State's Constitution.

    3) And before you argue, voting for gun control laws is not wrong/illegal in the sense that you want it to be. The Supreme Court has ruled on numerous occasions that gun control laws can be enacted. It is for that Court to decide in the end if any such State law intrudes on the 2nd Amendment, not the people's.

    September 11, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  7. frosty

    I am not going to lie, this is the first time in my 45 years of life, i felt good about America, About time we the American people did the right thing

    September 11, 2013 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  8. Chris

    The "I don't care if our children are slaughtered" crowd has prevailed.

    September 11, 2013 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  9. Todd

    We should make shooting people in schools and movie theaters against the law, that will stop the violence

    September 11, 2013 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  10. MAC

    The democrats will not hit the gangbangers, thugs, and criminals with swerious law enforcement since the will be going after their own voters. Mayor Booker of Newark, NJ looked at his city and only one muder was committed with a legally owned gun, the rest were illegal weapons. Also VP Biden admitted that none of the federal gun control proposals would have prevented Sandy Hook or the Aurora Theater shootings.

    September 11, 2013 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  11. Rob

    Good for them. One small victory for the people (For Once) and hopefully this sends a message that dictator rule will not work in American. Hope King Obama and is gang of anti Americans are paying attenton

    September 11, 2013 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  12. juliemac

    The article says the NRA is responsible. I say not so much.
    Bloomberg spent WAY more than they did. I say the PEOPLE have spoken out over over reaching laws makers.
    If NY still had the ability to recall (the lawmakers did away with that section of the NY Constitution) Cuomo would also be gone.

    But. the NYSRPA with the NRA filing as a "friend" will be in court 9/12/2013 to over turn NY SAFE act.

    To the people of Colorado; Well done!

    September 11, 2013 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  13. Rick

    Seriously, you couldn't find a better, less intimadating photo to unbiasedly represent the gun contro issue? Figures.

    September 11, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  14. Mark

    The right thing for an elected official will always be to represent their people by being their voice not your own. These two still have not learned that even after their people spoke- again.

    September 11, 2013 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  15. Yooper57

    Nice now you can smoke pot there and have a loaded gun!

    September 11, 2013 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  16. Let Freedom RIng

    This is not about the NRA lobbying. These was a grass-roots effort by the People. It was voters, not politicians, who made their personal choices known in this vote. Private citizens with no campaign funds for the NRA or anyone to contribute to. The Will of the People has prevailed.

    This is just the beginning for the anti-gun politicians. There is an electoral storm coming for those who exploited tragedy to attack one of our nation's most precious freedoms. The voters have spoken and have a lot more to say about it in upcoming elections.

    September 11, 2013 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  17. mikemikemike3

    See ya,..... wouldn't want to be ya !! And, this is just the start of a CLEAN SWEEP of the gun grabbers !!!

    September 11, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  18. scottw

    Notice that both recalled politicians state that they basically voted the way that "they" thought they should in regards to the gun grabbing legislation– not the way the majority of the voters in their districts wanted them ....And they answered for it......Good riddance.....

    September 11, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  19. Larry

    They deserved the peoples boot. Let this be a lesson for those who would infringe on our rights.

    September 11, 2013 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  20. Harry

    Right or wrong, Gun Control is bad politics and has been for some time. One freak goes on a shooting rampage and then everyone gets punished? No; too much real crime and too many people who do not have the same protection (gated community, army of security guards, immediate police presence) that the affluent enjoy.

    September 11, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  21. David

    Bloomberg vilifies the NRA, but he (Bloomberg) spent $350,000 trying to sway this election.

    This effort was also primarily a true grass roots effort, make no mistake about that. The NRA didn't get involved until after all the signatures on both petitions had survived the court challenge.

    Be advised that this outcome was the will of the people. All you elected officials need to listen, Bloomberg's money can't save your jobs.

    September 11, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  22. David

    Bottom line all elected officials need to realize that they are in office to represent their constituents not some national party.
    It is time to do away with the Democratic and Republican Parties and have open elections in the spring with the top two run off in the November elections. It is past time to prevent the radical 20% of the population (10% on both sides) from picking two people that the other 80% get to choose from.

    September 11, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  23. Mark

    IIt is time our politicians realize they work for the people or they won't have a job. It's time to take America back and make government for the people and by the people again. Vote anyone out that goes against the people.

    September 11, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  24. brad

    good, first order of business is to overturn the laws that punish the law abiding citizens.

    September 11, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  25. dave

    Elected officials work for the people. These two still don't get it. They cast votes based on their feelings not those of the people that elected them. Proud to vote against the will of the people. That should tell you about the mindset of the democratic party.

    it's about agenda not about the people. This is why you have black unemployment so high. It's about agenda not the people that vote for you. This is why we have small business collapsing and companies not hiring. It's about agenda not the people. Wake up democrate's that vote for those that don't represent your interests.

    September 11, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
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