With the concessions of defeat by former state senate president Democrat John Morse and Democrat senator Angela Giron came cries of jubilation and disappointment in the first recall election in Colorado's history. In the recall election first allowed by Colorado in 1912, more than $3 million was invested in the elections, most of it from out of state.
In his concession speech, Morse unintentionally alluded to how he lost the election:
The highest rank in a democracy is a citizen, not Senate President, [and] so soon, along with many of you, I will hold that rank…
There's nothing citizens can't accomplish when they put their minds to accomplishing it.
As senate president Morse presided over and pushed the Democrat agenda on gun control on innocent Colorado gun owners, passing without a single Republican vote, measures limiting magazine capacities to 15 rounds, and background checks on all private party sales. What angered activists most were the adoption under Morse of rules that severely limited public input during the debates.
As Tim Knight, the founder of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund (BFDF) and the driving grassroots force behind the recall, put it:
The Basic Freedom Defense Fund started as a group of concerned citizens coming together to hold politicians accountable…
It has now exploded into a statewide, coordinated effort…
So often politicians will say whatever then can to get elected [and] then do the complete opposite, to the point of completely ignoring their constituents and trampling our freedoms.
This group represents those people who are fed up with that type of representation and are determined to do something about it.
What really ignited the grassroots effort to oust Morse was his refusal to listen to his constituents and to drive his agenda over increasingly noisy protests. In his explanation, “Why recall John Morse” Knight got very specific:
[Morse] refuses to listen to his constituents or read their emails [and] then bragged about it on national television.
He broke his oath to protect and uphold the Constitution by championing citizen disarmament legislation…
He has been accused of numerous ethics violations…
He changed the rules disallowing citizen input on legislation…
He promised to focus on jobs and the economy but actually, willfully, hurt the economy … with the passage of a magazine ban that cost the state millions in tax revenue and hundreds of jobs as manufacturers left the state.
He wants to blame gun owners instead of violent criminals…
This galvanized the efforts of hundreds who began to canvass neighborhoods for signatures first to force the recall and then to encourage voters to go to the polls. Dozens manned telephones right up until polls closed at 7PM Tuesday night.
When all was said and done, Morse was out with a margin of just 343 votes, while state senator Angela Giron, a Democrat from Pueblo, Colorado lost by a much larger margin.
Tonight is a victory for the people of Colorado who have been subjected to the overreach of a Democrat agenda on guns, taxes and accountability to the people.
Since Day One they said it couldn't be done. Tonight this is a victory for the people of Colorado and we share this victory with them.
The victory was especially sweet for 28-year-old Victor Head, who, with his brothers, spearheaded the drive in Pueblo. Morse dismissed their efforts to recall him, calling Head an “unemployed plumber.” Head, who runs the family plumbing business, exulted: “I have a message for John Morse: who's unemployed now?”
Colorado's Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper, who signed the bills into law after he previously opposed them, expressed disappointment over the election results, ending his remarks with the standard Progressive mantra “moving forward”:
Tonight, voters in two Senate districts have spoken. We are certainly disappointed by the outcome of the recall elections.
It's now time we refocus again on … finding ways to keep Colorado moving forward.
Hickenlooper maintained a low profile during the recall effort, perhaps hoping that he might escape undamaged in the fray. But Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado, another grassroots political action group involved in the recall, said Hickenlooper is next on the agenda:
Starting tonight, Colorado is fighting back against the onerous policies of Colorado Democrats. Hickenlooper and his allies are one step closer to joining Morse and Giron come next November.
Maher just could be right. A recent statewide poll by Quinnipiac University showed that 52 percent of Colorado voters disapproved of his gun policies while only 35 percent approved.
Those “allies” Maher referred to included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who wrote a personal check for $350,000 to a committee defending Morse, and former president Bill Clinton who caught flak for recording robo-calls supporting Morse.
Despite a huge spending disadvantage – pro-Morse and Giron forces raised $3.1 million compared to just $266,231 in opposition, an 11-1 disadvantage – Morse and Giron are gone, to be replaced by moderate Republican conservatives. This won't tip the senate back to the Republicans and the House remains firmly in Democrat hands, but the recall, if it proves anything, shows that Morse was right: “There's nothing citizens can't accomplish when they put their minds to accomplishing it.”