Published: September 11, 2013
Democrats quickly tried to move on from the recall elections Wednesday that left two of their colleagues out of office, as Republicans scrambled to fan the spark of victory into a flame for the 2014 elections.
Voters in Pueblo and Colorado Springs ousted senators Angela Giron and John Morse from office Tuesday in recall elections spurred by five gun laws that took effect over the summer.
Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters that he was disappointed in the results but that recalls have been a part of democracy from the beginning.
"Certainly it might cause more recalls," Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said. "Recalls are expensive. The best way to recall someone is through a general election."
One of Hickenlooper's Republican challengers for the 2014 gubernatorial race was less subtle.
"This is truly historic and may symbolize the end to left wing lunacy in this state, halleluja!" Tom Tancredo said in a media statement.
Rick Palacio, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, said the recall elections will have limited impact on state politics.
"It's unfortunate that the legislature is losing Angela Giron and John Morse but at the end of the day there's not much that is changing here," Palacio said. "Our majorities are still maintained. Every lawmaker in the course of doing what they're supposed to do knows that there is some political risk to it. A good legislator votes his conscience."
The loss of Giron and Morse in the Senate means Democrats now have a one-vote majority over Republicans.
Taking Morse's seat for Senate District 11 is Bernie Herpin, a former Colorado Springs City Council member who was voted into office as part of the recall process. George Rivera will take Giron's seat. The two can be sworn in as early as Sept. 20 but it will depend on when the Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice is available.
The two enter as freshmen lawmakers and will have to seek reelection shortly after next session.
"I think any elected official should not necessarily be worried, but be concerned, that they need to listen more to their constituents and respect their rights," Herpin said. "I'm not sure if it gives Republicans power necessarily, but it certainly will make it more difficult to push through a radical agenda, and it will give us more of an opportunity to do things that are good for Colorado with education and the economy."
Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, said the outcome of the election is going to have a huge impact on next session.
"The Democrats are going to be a whole lot less arrogant going into the legislative session," Waller said, who is launching a campaign for attorney general. "I think that a lot more legislation that would have otherwise died gets out of the Senate, maybe even repeal legislation for some of the gun laws."
But perhaps the biggest impact will be on local El Paso and Pueblo politics. Voters sent a clear message that they are not afraid to kick people out of office.
Only two Democrats remain in office from El Paso County - Representatives Tony Exum and Pete Lee of Colorado Springs.
Exum said he was disappointed by the results of the recall, but not discouraged.
"I think that we still need to stay focused on creating jobs, increasing funding for education and those things that are important to our party," Exum said.
Contact Megan Schrader