Recoil of gun-law recalls? Dems still in control

With two Republican state senators being sworn into office after the dramatic recall elections earlier this month, don’t look for the controversial gun bills that sparked it all to be reversed anytime soon.

That’s because the Democrats still control the Colorado Senate by a one-vote margin, reminds Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs.

“People keep asking me when we’re going to repeal the gun bills, but I keep telling them the Democrats still have an 18-17 majority,” Cadman said. “They also still control the House and the governor’s office, so nothing is likely to happen.”

Sure, a Republican senator could, and likely will, introduce bills to repeal the new laws banning 15-round magazines and requiring universal background checks before purchasing a firearm. The laws caused voters in Pueblo and El Paso counties to recall Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo.

But repeal bills aren’t likely to go far, Cadman said.

“They still control the agenda,” he said. “They still control committee makeups and where bills are sent.”

Even Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge said she doesn’t expect to get a chance to vote on such measures.

That’s partly because Jahn was one of only two Democratic senators who opposed the magazine restriction.

Jahn is considered a conservative among her Democratic colleagues. So conservative, in fact, she’s been approached many times in her two dozen years in the Legislature to switch parties.

She’s not considering actually doing that, but she knows she now has a little more leverage than she did before.

“I grumble about both parties,” she said. “I think both sides are sometimes very over-reaching. I wish we could just get a moderate, central, centered-thinking group in the middle.

“I’m going into the next session with absolute moderation,” she added. “I believe that’s were the state is, I know that’s where my district is and I know that’s where Jefferson County is, and that’s how I intend to lead. I vote on the policy, not the party line.”

Despite the recall votes, and the message it sent to the Democratic Party, neither Cadman nor Jahn said they expect much to change during next year’s session.

Still, both are holding out final predictions depending on who wins the crucial leadership roles that have opened up because of the recalls.

With Morse out as president, Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, is expected to make a bid for the top job.

If that happens, that leaves open her current position.

And with a one-vote margin, and Jahn’s propensity to vote against her own party, it’s unknown how all of it would fall together. The Democrats are expected to meet by mid-October to hold leadership elections.

Regardless of the next session, which beings in January, both parties’ real sights are set on November 2014, when control of the Legislature and governor’s office will be in the balance.

Although many Republicans said they believe the recall votes have given them some momentum, at least one is wondering if the party can hold it together.

“The mood among Republicans? One word. Hopeful,” said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank. “It has resuscitated hope in the Republican Party. But the big question is, can we continue that momentum, or are we going to have divisive primaries and see people picking winners and losers?”


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