September 11, 2013
By Robert W. Hunnicutt
In a stunning rebuke for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other out-of-state meddlers, voters in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Pueblo, Colo., recalled Colorado State Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron.
The two had spearheaded recent legislation that outlawed normal-size magazines and imposed a waiting period on private gun sales. A Republican legislator will replace each for the remainder of the current legislative session.
The recall election became the focal point of a struggle between gun rights advocates and gun controllers like Bloomberg and California billionaire Eli Broad, both of whom contributed more than $600,000 between them. The national media cast the vote as a sort of Alamo for the NRA, and clearly was prepared to say that gun owners had lost their mojo if Giron and Morse won.
In fact, the recall was driven by local gun owners; in Giron's case, three Pueblo plumbers. My guess is the NRA was probably reluctant to join the effort when it started, as the road to recall looked pretty steep, especially in Giron's staunchly Democratic district. In the end, huge spending by recall opponents failed to overcome the dedication and enthusiasm of gun owners.
The results were surely a body blow to Bloomberg, who can't claim NRA bought the election, as his side outspent recall proponents by a margin of better than 5-to-1. The New York mayor — who has been taking an endless bashing in Gotham over his stop-and-frisk policy — tried to console himself by concentrating on the narrow margin of victory, which in Morse's case was just 343 votes. Sorry, Mike. Close only counts in hand grenades. If you lose by one or a million, you lose. Whatever the margin, Morse's staffers will be spending the day looking for cardboard boxes and freshening up their resumes.
The spin applied to these results is going to be interesting. There has been a clear effort made to turn gun control into a litmus-test issue in the Democratic Party, making it a shibboleth like abortion or gay marriage. That drive is likely to come untracked, as these results make it apparent that backing gun control can be a killer even in a Democratic stronghold like Pueblo.
Gun ownership will continue to be a piÃ±ata in California or Connecticut, but where the electorate is more closely divided, a smart Democrat will hew closer to our side.
The New York Times tried to minimize the importance of the results, while The Washington Post more realistically called it "serious blow" to gun control advocates.
The antis have managed to convince themselves, despite abundant evidence to the contrary over a half-century, that NRA buys elections with the ill-gotten gains of the nation's so-called "merchants of death." It's going to take a monumental effort to believe that after the Colorado recall.
Gun owners were outspent, but not outworked. Once again, they demonstrated that if your passion is strong and your strategy sound, you can beat Big Money. That's a really satisfying sendoff for Bloomberg, who will toddle off to retirement having served as a punching bag in yesterday's New York mayoral primary.
Let's also agree recalls are a very blunt political instrument. A recall is like using a chain saw to remove a splinter. It was the right tool this time, but let's hope legislators all over the country learn their lesson so we don't have to use it again. We have elections at designated intervals for a reason, but when legislators utterly reject the core beliefs of their constituents, a price has to be paid. Giron and Morse have paid it.