DENVER–It’s hard to recall the last time Coloradans were so fired up over recalls.
Days after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three gun-control bills into law, gun-rights advocates are moving to recall anybody and everybody associated with the legislation, including the Democratic governor.
A crowd chanted “Recall Hickenlooper!” at a rally outside Hickenlooper’s speech Saturday at Club 20′s annual spring meeting at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Waving flags and signs, about 100 protestors lined 12th Street and then moved into the university center, according to media reports.
“I appreciate you guys having the welcoming committee out for me,” Hickenlooper joked at the start of his speech. “That was really fun to watch.”
Meanwhile, organized recall efforts were popping up on websites and Facebook, including but not limited to: Recall Colorado; Recall Colorado Gun-Grabbing Democrats; Stop Hickenlooper–Free Colorado.
Individual recall efforts are being launched against Democratic Reps. Rhonda Fields and Mike McLachlan, as well as Sens. Evie Hudak and John Morse. Many of the local committees have been formed by the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, formerly known as Colorado Accountability.
“We’re dedicated to the common purpose of holding our elected representatives here in the state of Colorado RESPONSIBLE and ACCOUNTABLE for the things they do in office, and to ensure the defense of our freedoms here in Colorado,” said the fund in a statement.
Of the targeted lawmakers, Hudak and McLachlan are seen as particularly vulnerable. Hudak won her Jefferson County seat in November over Republican Lang Sias by a margin of 47.2 to 46.2 percentage points, even with a Libertarian Party candidate drawing 6.7 percent of the vote.
Hudak drew the enmity of gun-rights advocates at a committee hearing when she told a rape victim who testified that a gun would have helped her fend off an attacker that “actually, statistics are not on your side.” She later said she had apologized privately to the woman.
The McLachlan recall camp announced Friday that its recall petition had been approved by the Secretary of State’s office, meaning that organizers now have 60 days to gather the necessary 10,587 signatures to put the recall on the November ballot.
McLachlan won his seat in November by a margin of 51.1 to 48.9 percentage points, defeating Republican state Rep. J. Paul Brown in the Durango district. Opponents say he campaigned in favor of gun rights, but then voted in favor of four of the gun-control bills before the legislature, including the three signed into law last week.
McLachlan was hospitalized Thursday for the second time last week for undisclosed reasons, according to KDVR-TV in Denver.
Fields, who sponsored the most controversial bill, limiting ammunition-magazines to 15 rounds, won in a landslide with 73 percent of the vote in November, but foes have argued that recent attention on her arrest record could make her more vulnerable in her Aurora district.
Fields has acknowledged a 1976 arrest for larceny and 1991 arrest for shoplifting, but Media Trackers reported earlier this month that she also has a 1998 arrest for writing bad checks, as well as a number of traffic violations.
Fields told the Denver Post in 2010 that the arrests occurred at a “dark, desperate time” in her life and that she disclosed them during her campaign.
Morse, who sponsored the failed civil-liability bill for gun manufacturers and retailers, represents Colorado Springs, a traditional Republican stronghold. In 2010, Morse squeaked out a victory over Republican Owen Hill by a margin of 48.3 to 47.1 percentage points, with a Libertarian candidate taking 4.5 percent.
Morse has argued that his support of gun-control bills is worth any political price he may pay.
“That’s why politicians around the country don’t want to stand up for this issue, but this is a political hill in my view that’s worth dying for so that we can make sure others don’t die literally at the point of a gun,” Morse told KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs.