Recall election in Colorado draws national attention

John Morse

Colorado Senator Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, speaks at a news conference about the attempt to recall her at the Colorado Democratic Headquarters in Denver, on Monday June 10, 2013. She is the second Colorado Democrat who supported gun control measures this year who could be subject to a recall election. Gun-rights activists in Pueblo turned in signatures Monday for a recall election for Sen. Angela Giron. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Tuesday is Election Day for some Coloradans, but the ballots cast will be watched nationwide.

For voters in southern Colorado, Tuesday’s recall elections are nothing more than just that: a chance to say if they want Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, to stay in office.

To everyone else, however, the unprecedented recall elections are not only about whether state legislatures should enact tougher new gun laws, but also about which party will control the Colorado Legislature after next year’s elections.

“The eyes of the nation are on Colorado, and both sides believe that the future of the Second Amendment will be settled based on what happens in Colorado this fall and next fall,” said Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray and a candidate for governor.

“If (New York Mayor Michael) Bloomberg’s side wins, the anti-gun crowd across the country will be emboldened and will continue to push gun control,” he said. “If my side wins, the anti-gun crowd will be beat back for another generation.”

That’s why far more people from outside of Colorado Springs and Pueblo have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the recall campaigns.

According to campaign finance records with the Secretary of State’s Office, the two committees fighting against the recalls have raised nearly $1.7 million.

For the committee that supports the Senate president, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, only about 5 percent of the $706,000 it has raised have come from inside his Senate district. The rest has come from all corners of the nation.

The largest donor for that committee and the one supporting Giron, Pueblo United for Angela, has been a group called Taxpayers for Responsible Democracy. Much of its money comes from Bloomberg, who personally wrote a check for $350,000 to both groups just last week.

The groups backing the recalls aren’t showing those kinds of contributions, but they’re still similarly raising money from across the nation. Most of it, however, is going to organizations that aren’t required to file campaign finance reports, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit group that monitors campaign finances.

The foundation reported last week that the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action has donated more than $360,000 to the recall effort.

Republicans believe the passage of such gun bills as universal background checks and limits on gun magazines will result in the Democrats’ demise from control of the Legislature and governor’s office, but Democrats are holding fast on their belief that they did the right thing, and that they have voter support.

“The main intent of creating magazine limits was to help prevent future mass public shootings like the one Colorado suffered in the Aurora movie theater tragedy of 2012, where the gunman entered the peaceful theater brandishing a rifle equipped with a 100-round drum,” said Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village. “Coloradans have the constitutional right to petition for a recall without the presence of the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ that many people associate with legitimate grounds for removal from office. However, we are certainly finding in 2013 that the current campaigns are precedent-setting, divisive and they may not contribute to the process for good public policy.”


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