On Tuesday, for the first time in the state’s history, Colorado voters removed two sitting state Senators from office. The special “recall” elections were the result of state Democrats’ moves to pass sweeping gun control legislation. Despite millions spent in support of Democrats Angela Giron and John Morse, they were easily defeated. Democrats, who had a 20-15 majority in the state Senate, now cling to a razor-thin 18-17 majority. So much for moving to the left.
Earlier this year, Colorado, with complete Democrat control of state government, enacted a number of largely symbolic gun control laws. The effort arose in the aftermath of the Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO shootings. While the laws enacted would not have prevented either shooting, they were seen as an important step in the progress of gun control in the US. Colorado, despite recent presidential election results, is a “purple” state with a strong tradition of supporting gun rights. On Tuesday, that tradition came back with a vengeance.
The impact of the recalls can not be overstated. Sen. Giron represented a democrat-leaning, but largely rural, district. Sen. Morse was the President of the state Senate. Politicians in the position of power that Morse held rarely lose elections. They simply have too many resources and allies to draw from to overwhelm their opponents. Not enough, it seems, to overcome the 2nd Amendment.
Gun control advocates like New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg poured resources into these races. In addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars, his organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, had over 30 staffers in the state working to save the two Democrats. The DNC poured money and staff into the state as well. In the end, though, the results weren’t even close.
There is a larger lesson here for Republicans nationwide. Stick to your principles. The national Republican party tries to foist a saccharin message onto candidates. Speak broadly against government regulation, suggest the need for tax reform. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t motivate voters.
The Colorado recall elections were born out of a desire to protect what many voters see as a fundamental right. Although recall supporters were outspent and out-organized by some unknown magnitude, they prevailed. In the end, it wasn’t even that close.
Bloomberg should think hard about the usefulness of his hobby. Democrats should remember, as they did years ago, that gun control is a losing political issue. Republicans should also remember that standing on principle is the greatest asset in any campaign.