DENVER (AP) — Democratic voters in Colorado helped remove two state senators of their own party who voted for tighter gun control — an ouster that was both intensely local and a national test of what can happen to lawmakers who support gun restrictions in battleground states.
The well-organized activists who sought to recall Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron got the backing of gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association. It turned out they didn't need much assistance because voters were already so incensed by passage of the gun-control package.
Democrats, who maintain control of the Legislature, said the losses were purely symbolic. But they could be a sign of things to come in 2014, both in Colorado's governor's race and in scores of other political contests around the country.
After last year's mass shootings, Colorado was the only state beyond Democratic strongholds New York, California and Connecticut to pass gun-control legislation. Gun-control measures died in Congress, as well as Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Delaware.
Outspent by about 5-to-1, recall supporters cited a big anti-recall donation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make one of their main points — that Democrats controlling the state Legislature were more interested in listening to the White House and outside interests than their own constituents.
That feeling was particularly strong in Pueblo, an industrial city in southern Colorado where Democrats tend to be more conservative on social issues and voters of all persuasions tend to embrace gun rights.
Victor Head, the 28-year-old plumber who launched the recall effort in Pueblo, said people in his hometown did not need any encouragement from the NRA to turn out against Giron.
Voters don't like their gun rights "being messed with regardless of party," said Head, who asked a friend to film campaign videos in his backyard.