Colorado recall under way: Will it send a message on gun control? (+video)
Early balloting reportedly has begun in earnest in advance of the closely watched recall votes Tuesday in the districts of two Colorado state senators who supported gun-control legislation.
Early voting is under way in two Colorado districts whose state senators face a recall vote – a first in the state’s history.Skip to next paragraph
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The elections, which officially take place Tuesday, have drawn national attention and large outside financial contributions, with many pundits seeing them as precedent-setting elections in a bellwether state, with implications well beyond these districts, especially in the national gun-control debate.
The two state senators facing recalls – John Morse and Angela Giron, representing Colorado Springs and Pueblo – are both Democrats who supported gun-control legislation this past winter, including a bill that limits the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, and another that expands background checks to private gun sales.
The bills – in a Western state with a long history of gun ownership, but also direct experience with shooting tragedies – were a notable victory for gun-control advocates, and caused an intense backlash from some gun enthusiasts.
Now, six months later, two of the bills’ supporters are fighting for their political lives – though observers differ on what it all means.
“Ultimately there’s really nothing at stake. It doesn’t change the balance of the state senate” even if both senators lose Tuesday, says Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party. “But what happens is that people in Pueblo and Colorado Springs were forced to go through these activities and forced to foot the bill for them,” about half a million dollars, Mr. Palacio says. “That’s a high price to pay for what I’ve been calling temper tantrums by the far right.”
Still, the elections are drawing huge amounts of outside funding – from gun-control proponents like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist Eli Broad on the anti-recall side, as well as from the NRA and Americans for Prosperity. (A recent Denver Post review of finance reports shows that opponents of the recall have raised nearly $3 million, while proponents have raised about $540,000.)
A big reason for that spending is the message that both sides believe could be sent by a successful recall – particularly one that includes Mr. Morse, the president of the state senate. Such a recall, believe some observers, could be a powerful deterrent for lawmakers in other swing states when it comes to gun control, and in Colorado, could send a message – on issues beyond just gun control – that some voters believe lawmakers have swung too far to the left.