Two Colorado politicians, John Morse of Colorado Springs, and Angela Giron of Pueblo, were recalled on Tuesday in an election sparked because of their support of gun control legislation. This is the first time in the history of the state that a legislative recall has taken place.
Preliminary polls had predicted that Morse would be ousted, while indicating that Giron would keep her seat; but a low turnout of voters turned the tide against her as well. In fact, Giron lost by an even wider margin than Morse did. Voting began last Thursday, with a break on Sunday, and had to be done in person.
Both politicians are Democrats, and the objective of the recall was to replace them with Republicans. Morse, who is also president of the state senate has already conceded his loss. He will be replaced by Bernie Herpin. Giron, on the other hand, will have her seat taken over by George Rivera.
The recall effort was launched because of the state senators’ support for capacity limits on gun magazines, and changes to background check regulations. The laws were passed without any Republican support, as Democrats hold the majority in the state legislature. Several county sheriffs have taken legal action to stop the regulations.
Morse and Giron were able to raise over $3 million to counter the recall effort, with high-profile donors such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg among their supporters. This is far more than the backers of the campaign to remove them from office donated. The ouster of the politicians will not repeal the laws they helped to pass, nor shift the majority in the state senate in favor of the Republican party. However, it may signify that it will take more than funding and organization for Democrats to effectively fight the National Rifle Association.
Democrats have condemned the campaign against them as a misuse of the recall process; however, Colorado state law does not require for office holders to engage in illegal or unethical behavior in order to be recalled. The successful effort follows a failed attempt to unseat another two Democrats earlier this year, also for supporting gun control measures.
Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, who at first opposed the gun control laws in question despite a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, changed his mind on the subject after the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. He is up for reelection next year, and polls indicate that his stance on gun control is opposed by 52 percent of voters, while only 35 percent support it. State Senator Greg Brophy, who intends to run against Hickenlooper, said, “This should serve as a warning that the Democrats in the Legislature must be more balanced in the upcoming session. Governor Hickenlooper should also realize that his inability to control the Legislature could be very costly.”
President Obama pushed for similar legislation to be passed at the federal level; but the bill was defeated in the senate.
The recall against the two politicians for their support of gun control measures might mean a shift in strategy for the NRA and those sympathetic to its cause in how they fight politicians that favor stricter gun regulations. It might also mean the organization will try to focus its efforts more on swing states.
By Milton Ruiz