Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said voter suppression — and not a strong outcry against Colorado's new gun-control laws — led to two of the state's top senators losing their seats in recall elections Tuesday.
"This was voter suppression, pure and simple," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Wednesday, according to The Hill
"The recall elections in Colorado were defined by the vast array of obstacles that special interests threw in the way of voters for the purpose of reversing the will of the legislature and the people," she said.
Colorado state Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, both Democrats, were targeted in the recall election because of their support for new laws expanding background checks on gun purchases and limiting the number of rounds contained in magazine clips.
The recall was backed by the National Rifle Association, which put up $360,000 in support of the effort that successfully ousted Morse and Giron.
Wasserman Schultz blamed lawsuits that were filed by gun-rights advocates for keeping many voters from mailing in ballots. She also said late announcements about voting locations kept people away from the polls and said efforts by the NRA, the conservative Koch brothers, and other "right-wing groups" had played a role in forcing the Democrats from office.
She added that conservatives "know that when more people vote, Democrats win."
The NRA, however, said the recall was "driven by concerned citizens, who made phone calls, knocked on doors, and worked diligently to turn voters out in this historic effort."
Bernie Herpin was elected in the recall to replace Morse and George Rivera will step into Giron's seat. Herpin and Rivera are Republicans.
Ultimately, the NRA and gun-rights groups hope to use the recall as a catalyst for possibly overturning new state laws that were passed by the Colorado Legislature following the 2012 mass shootings at a theater in Aurora, Colo., and at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Democrats will still hold the majorities in both the state House and Senate despite the recall of Morse and Giron. Gov. John Hickenlooper also is a Democrat.
Despite his defeat, Morse vowed to continue fighting for tougher gun control measures, according to The Denver Post
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