Conservatives in Colorado say the recall of two Democratic state senators had a much greater significance than voter anger over new gun-control legislation.
"The vote here Tuesday represents nothing short of a sure signal from voters that the left reached too far in its agenda in Colorado," conservative former Rep. Tom Tancredo, the leading Republican candidate for governor in 2014, told Newsmax on Wednesday.
With most votes counted, state Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo were removed from office and replaced by Republicans.
Morse lost by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent and, in results that were particularly dramatic, Giron went down by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent in one of the most reliably Democratic bastions of the state.
With their defeats, the 35-member state senate’s makeup is now 18 Democrats and 17 Republicans.
"There's no question opposition to gun-control measures started the petition drive in the two districts," Tancredo told Newsmax.
He recalled how the Democrat-controlled legislature passed the legislation following the Aurora theater shootings and the Newtown, Conn., school shootings in 2012. Later, three plumbers launched a petition drive to recall gun-control supporters Morse and Giron.
Tancredo also noted that, even with the backing of the National Rifle Association, the movement led by Pueblo plumbers Victor and Adam Head and Ernest Mascarenas was outspent by recall opponents, their ranks including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Washington Post reported that "contributions to Morse and Giron totaled about $3 million, dwarfing the amount raised by gun activists who petitioned for the recall, although some independent groups did not have to report spending."
Along with the gun issue, Tancredo believes that much of the voter anger was fueled by the agenda of the Colorado Democracy Alliance (CoDA), the driving force behind the state going from Republicans controlling the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats, and both houses of the state legislature in 2004 to Democrats controlling all in 2008.
In their much-praised book, "The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care," authors Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer described the coordination of national leftist dollars to Colorado and cited CoDA's "pivotal role in transforming Colorado."
But the CoDA agenda, Tancredo told us, "has included things that many Coloradans consider too extreme."
These, he said, include same-sex marriage, a billion-dollar tax increase, mandatory sex education in public schools, driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, and the gun bills, which included a ban on high-capacity magazines.
Initially considered a "centrist" Democrat, former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper won the governorship in 2010. That year, when Republican nominee Dan Maes came under fire for questions about his resume and finances, many in the party turned to Tancredo as a late-starting independent contender.
Hickenlooper won with 50 percent to Tancredo's 40 percent and 10 percent for Maes.
Hickenlooper supported and signed much of the controversial legislation into law and he is now highly unpopular. Some Democrats even believe he will step down and defer to former senator and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who reportedly always has wanted to be governor.
Among Republicans, Tancredo is considered the favorite and has a strong following among party conservatives. Although best known as a fierce opponent of illegal immigration, he also is the father of his state's school-voucher movement and proudly placed the first school-voucher proposal on the state ballot in 1992.
But Tancredo will face a primary with Secretary of State Scott Gessler and state Sen. Greg Brophy. A fourth contender could be Arapahoe County (Aurora) District Attorney George Brauchler, who says he may be too busy to run if the alleged theater shooter is ruled sane to stand trial and he handles the prosecution.
November 2014 is a long way off. But based on Tuesday’s results, there is now a strong case for Colorado conservatives to make that, in Bob Dylan’s words, "The times, they are a-changin'."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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