Voters in Colorado sent a big message yesterday to progressives who thought they’d taken ownership of the interior West in recent election cycles. Legalizing pot and even raising a few taxes might be fine and dandy, but take away the guns and the state — and the electorate — start seeing red (via The Week):
Two Colorado Democrats who provided crucial support for a slate of tough new gun-control laws were voted out of office on Tuesday in a recall vote widely seen as a test of popular support for gun restrictions after mass shootings in a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.
The election, which came five months after the United States Senate defeated several gun restrictions, handed another loss to gun-control supporters. It also gave moderate lawmakers across the country a warning about the political risks of voting for tougher gun laws.
The recall elections ousted two Democratic state senators, John Morse and Angela Giron, and replaced them with Republicans. Both defeats were painful for Democrats – Mr. Morse’s because he had been Senate president, and Ms. Giron’s because she represented a heavily Democratic, working-class slice of southern Colorado.
Michael Bloomberg tried to swing the election back to Morse and Giron by dropping $350,000 into the race, and progressive groups raised a total of $3 million to protect the two gun-control advocates. It made no difference in the end — and that’s a big deal for the gun-rights movement, writes Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post:
It’s not every day that you see an incumbent recalled from office, let alone someone as high-profile as a state Senate president. The message the defeat of Morse and Giron sends to legislators all across the country is unmistakable: If you are thinking about pushing for new gun-control laws, you could face swift consequences.
“You could almost call it the bellwether state as far as what’s going to happen down the road as far as gun-control and Second Amendment rights,” Republican George Rivera, who will fill Giron’s seat, told The Fix late last month.
The particulars of Tuesday’s elections prompted some gun-control advocates to argue that the results shouldn’t be over-read. For one thing, voters didn’t receive mail ballots automatically, a substantial change of protocol in a state where the majority of voters cast their votes via mail. For another, the losses don’t mean Republicans will control the Senate; nor do they mean the gun laws that Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed into law will be repealed. …
But it shouldn’t go overlooked that the two districts where voters cast ballots tilt more Democratic than Republican. And the anti-recall side easily outraised the pro-recall interests. The Democratic losses are a reflection of the fact that enthusiasm was squarely on the opposite side of Morse and Giron. …
While the long-term significance of the election will assuredly be be debated, it’s hard to argue against the proposition that lawmakers in other states will have Colorado somewhere in their minds the next time a push to tighten gun laws begins ramping up.
It probably didn’t help the two Democrats that the effort to rescue them came most publicly from New York City, and not their own constituents. In fact, as Alec MacGillis points out in The New Republic, the anti-recall side had far more money than the pro-recall side, perhaps as much as 6:1 in favor of Morse and Giron. They got more help from GOTV groups that tried to turn out voters for the cause. In the end, even with all of these advantages, Coloradans told the gun grabbers to pound sand.
The Boss Emeritus, a Coloradan herself, wrote that the “bright red line” had now been drawn:
The significance of this historic and unprecedented battle cannot be overstated. As I’ve reported over the past several months, the effort was an astonishing grass-roots effort in which ordinary citizens gathered more than 16,000 signatures for a recall petition in Colorado Springs over a matter of weeks. The role of women (Coloradans Laura Carno, Kelly Maher, Kim Weeks were among the leading lights) in pushing back against false gun-grabbing narratives and smears was invaluable. The birth control fear-mongering failed. The use of social media to organize echoes other successful Tea Party efforts. …
But the message has been sent and the bright red line has been drawn. Other Democratic state legislators across the country posing as “moderates” cannot carry water for the Bloomberg conglomerate and think they can escape without electoral consequences.
And Colorado’s “moderate” Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper better watch out.
Indeed. And so too should other politicians who think that Bloomberg’s money and name carry some sort of cachet among their electorate.