Confronted with an overwhelming financial disadvantage, demonized by shameless TV ads suggesting they wanted to criminalize miscarriages, and even an eleventh-hour get-out-the-vote call by former President Bill Clinton, the grassroots effort to recall Democratic state Senators John Morse and Angela Giron prevailed Tuesday night.
In what could be characterized as a microcosm of their underfunded effort, pro-recall forces recycled that Clinton call — using it as a tool to mobilize their own voters in the final hours of the campaign.
“Bill Clinton called liberals in The Springs and Pueblo last night, and urged them to vote. But he didn’t call you, because he no doubt hopes you won’t,” the pro-recall message began, before playing a montage of snippets from past Clinton speeches endorsing Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama.
“Clinton endorses Obama, Clinton endorses Morse – who cares what Bill Clinton thinks?,” the call concluded. “This is our community, not billionaire [New York Mayor] Michael Bloomberg’s, and not his.”
That kind of creative rapid-response to out-of-state meddling by the well-heeled gun-control lobby may very well have made the difference in Colorado Springs, where the sitting Senate President, John Morse, was ousted by just a few hundred votes.
The contest in Pueblo was far more lopsided, with incumbent Angela Giron being thrown out of office by a wide margin of several thousand votes, according to preliminary results – a shocking 12 percentage point loss in what had been considered a “safe” Democratic seat.
What makes the results even more remarkable is that the gun-control lobby – flush with six-figure contributions from wealthy out of state ideologues like Bloomberg – spent more than seven times what the pro-recall effort did to influence the outcome of the election.
Even with that kind of insurmountable financial advantage, it appears, convincing Coloradans to accept New York-style gun controls was still a bridge much too far.
But Tuesday night’s results aren’t just about the rejection of out-of-state efforts by progressives to purchase Colorado’s political system, or even the message the results will send to national Democratic Party bigwigs in Washington, DC about the politics of gun control.
The results are also a wake-up call to Colorado’s Democratic power brokers, check-writers and Governor John Hickenlooper – whose myopic focus on gun control and a host of other divisive social issues during the legislative session prompted voters in conservative El Paso County and union-friendly Pueblo to take the unprecedented step of recalling their state Senators for the first time in state history.
Interestingly, long before he recorded the GOTV call for the gun-control lobby, Bill Clinton warned Democrats about the risk of trying to impose big city gun laws in places like Colorado.
“Do not patronize the passionate supporters of your opponents by looking down your nose at them,” Clinton told a group of Party funders in January. “A lot of these people live in a world very different from the world lived in by the people proposing these [gun control bills]. I know because I come from this world.”
His advice turned out to be worth a lot more than that robo-call. Maybe now, Colorado Democrats will finally listen.