In a historic and unexpected move, the president of the state senate and another Democratic senator were ousted Tuesday in Colorado's first ever recall elections, launched over their efforts to tighten gun regulations.
Colorado Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron said goodbye to their political positions yesterday, after a recall battle that drew over $3.5 million in campaign contributions — nearly $3 million of which had been donated to support the ousted Democrats and their push for greater gun-control.
‘‘We as the Democratic Party will continue to fight,’’ Morse said, shortly after conceding the race.
Gun rights advocates pushed for the recall drive soon after three firearm-control bills, heavily backed by Morse and Giron, were signed into law in March. The bills — which included requiring gun buyers to submit background checks and banning the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds — were submitted shortly after a theater shooting that left 12 dead in Aurora, Colorado.
"I said at the time if it costs me my political career, so be it," Morse told journalists soon after conceding. "That's nothing compared to what the families of [gun violence] victims go through every single day. We did the right thing."
Morse lost by a narrow margin, with 51 percent of voters choosing to recall the senator. But the result was still surprising, considering that a poll conducted last month showed 60 percent of voters saying they believe they should wait for re-election rather than mount a recall.
But the pro-gun advocates, who accused Democrats of pushing through the gun control laws while the state was still dealing with the Aurora shootings, seemed to think constituents were tired of being ignored.
"If the people had been listened to, these recalls wouldn't be happening," said a recall organizer.
"When you (have) 10,000 valid signatures on a recall petition, that's a powerful message," echoed Morse's Republican opponent .
In spite of this, the Democratic senators vowed to keep going with firearm restrictions.
“We can all be proud of the work we did. It looks like we have a little more work to do," Giron said. “I’m not going to cry because what this is going to do is make us stronger. We will win in the end because we are on the right side.”
“Tonight’s results do not change the fact that Coloradans are safer today because of the leadership demonstrated by Senators Morse, Giron and the rest of the Colorado lawmakers who voted for the bills,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who personally wrote a $350,000 check to the anti-recall campaign.
The senators have now been replaced by two pro-gun Republicans, but in spite of this, Democrats still control the state House. They are also still the majority in the Senate, although narrowly — it now has 18 Democrats and 17 Republicans.