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. JoePub

    Two more people unfit for office ousted. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    September 11, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  2. sgreco

    Hey democrats. Remember when they asked for your votes to recall the governor of Wisconsin and you didnt because you asserted that its immoral to recall someone who didnt make an egregious legal or moral error?

    The republicans dont extend you the same courtesy.

    Learn to fight for what you believe in.

    September 11, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  3. hender1123

    The voice of citizens. Stuff like this must make Obama furious.

    September 11, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  4. jerpell own or not to own....I own.

    September 11, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  5. Kane

    I hope people see this for what it CAN be. It sends a message that you CAN make a difference, you CAN oust a scumbag politician doing the complete opposite of his/her campaign promises (NOT stating either of these doing so). When the PEOPLE state they desire one thing yet the politicians vote the opposite, they DESERVE to be fired. Now we just need the same ability to fire Supreme Court Judges. I bet a good three quarters of them would be fired within a single day. BUT, since many of you will whine that this is an issue of gun control................I can hit a quarter dead center at 50 yards with anything from a .22 to 7.62X54......I dont need 500 round clips to so. I dont need an assault weapon to do so. I can hit a human sized target with my bow at 50 yards 6 times in eighteen seconds. My point isnt that you should be afraid of me, merely that banning a thing wont stop the use of something different. Idiots who have the sick urge to hurt others will ALWAYS find a way to do so. Timothy Mcveigh didnt need a single gun or bullet, neither did Jeffrey Dahlmer. Wake up people, it's not the weapon in the hand, it's the one of the mind. People will NEVER allow their personal freedoms to be restricted, so people will never allow any law that will make any real difference; one that will put deranged idiots in jail BEFORE they commit the crime.

    September 11, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  6. Anthony

    Bloomburg is the biggest hypocrite among the zelots of gun control. He is the only person in New York city that is not required to maintain a NY license for his fully automatic weapon that he owns. His body guards are more armed then your traditional police officer. WAAH!

    September 11, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  7. Steve

    Good. Home of Columbine. Ten years later and they have learned nothing.

    September 11, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  8. Charlie

    The first two of many to be ousted .. Joe Manchin your day is coming too you turned your back on your supporters and come election time the favor will be returned!

    September 11, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  9. bence

    take our guns so we can't protect our households and let us take military weapons and fight wars you get one Obama and some for your girls and wife

    September 11, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  10. Shuffler

    Bloomberg misnamed his group... it is truthfully not mayors against illegal guns, it is mayors against all guns. They do not want you to be able to protect your family at all. They want to make it safer to be a criminal.

    September 11, 2013 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  11. John Jingle

    Blast to the Demorats. This is what is going to happen in the mid terms. Dems will be ousted. This is great!

    September 11, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  12. Derek

    "Giron also said she was "proud" that she voted for the gun laws."

    Well, it's clearly NOT the "right thing" if it's against "The People's" wishes. This is America. You are supposed to represent your constituents, not further your own, or your party's agenda over their wishes. You did this, and you got booted out of office. Let this be a lesson for other politicians who would subvert their constituent's wishes.

    September 11, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  13. PaulG

    Elected officials answer to their constituents...

    September 11, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  14. Bill

    They took their orders from Washington, and now they can take their pink slips from the people that elected them

    September 11, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  15. rjsenterp

    They voted and the people spoke. Time to "get out of town".

    "Stand and Fight"

    Loyal NRA member forever!

    September 11, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  16. oldesalt

    I hope Massachusetts legislators take note of this as they weigh introducing even tighter already overly restrictive gun laws in our state, e.g. seven round limits on magazines.

    September 11, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  17. Ant

    Let freedom ring!!!!

    September 11, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  18. Fred

    What do you need a 30 round clip for?

    In case the dear starts shooting back?

    September 11, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  19. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Guess American's want to be FREE
    from government boot on their throat !!!

    September 11, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  20. SpgfldTom

    Yea, CO voters! The results should strike a note of fear in the hearts of the Gun Grabber Democrats nationwide.........nah, they will forge ahead in their quest to ensure only the criminals have guns. On a similar note, looks like Anthony "The Gaucho of Love" Weinier, lost his bid to be Mayor of NYC. Apparently, yesterday was not a good day to be a weasel.

    September 11, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  21. lerianis

    Bloomberg had better wake the hell up here. Most Americans realize, as I do, that 'background checks' are worthless in the real world. Criminals will just have people straw buy or go to their local black market dealer for their firearms or steal them from someone who bought them legally.

    So, the background checks do absolutely NOTHING to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and do a whole lot to prevent regular citizens from exercising their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

    September 11, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  22. 4real

    No matter how the liberal media spins it, this is a message, a loud and clear one.

    September 11, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  23. hardcase59

    Just the beginning folks. There'll be others.

    September 11, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz aka Take Back The House

    What a shame.

    September 11, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Well Done Colorado! Now vote in a more representative government this coming election, rescind these silly laws and straighten the state out.

    September 11, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
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