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Traffic passes in front of The New York Times building on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) Traffic passes in front of The New York Times building on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)  

New York Times weighs in on ‘vindictive’ recall of Colorado Dems

Greg Campbell
Contributor

Two Democratic Colorado state senators who are facing recall elections on Sept. 10 got The New York Times’ endorsement Friday.

The Gray Lady came out with an editorial calling the ballot-box showdown an important “barometer of whether the public, which repeatedly registers support for tougher gun controls in surveys, will show up at the ballot to defend politicians who bucked the gun lobby.”

The editorial plainly characterized the recalls of Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron as a fight between common-sense politicians and “the reckless agenda” of the National Rifle Association, which it said Colorado has traditionally embraced.

The Times called the recall attempts “vindictive” and “vengeful.”

The recall elections stem from the lawmakers’ support of two controversial new bills limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and requiring universal background checks for all gun sales.

Morse opponent Laura Carno, who founded a group called I Am Created Equal that raised money for the recall, said the Times piece mischaracterized the NRA’s involvement.

“The New York Times seems to want to convince people that this was an NRA-driven national big organization type of thing,” she said in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, “and they could not be further from the truth.”

She said the recalls were initiated by locals and driven by grassroots support, even though the NRA has had a hand in helping the effort.

The group, which lobbied hard against these and other new gun control laws (NRA president David Keene even met with Morse and Gov. John Hickenlooper behind closed doors while the bills were being debated), sent flyers to voters in Morse’s district saying it was coordinating his recall with local group Basic Freedom Defense Fund.

Still, it’s been clear for months that national interests on both sides of the gun debate have a stake in the outcome of the recall elections.

When the Colorado legislature debated the bills earlier this year, Vice President Joe Biden, who spearheaded gun-control discussions in Washington, phoned key Democrats to shore up their support. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who runs a gun control group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), called Hickenlooper just before Hickenlooper signed the bills into law.

MAIG also organized a “No More Names” event in Aurora during the anniversary of the mass theater shooting there in which the names of gun violence victims were read aloud for more than 11 hours.

The Times editorial said that how the recalls play out may well dictate the direction of gun control in America. And it made clear that it wants victory for Morse and Giron.

“For all the message of risk for politicians embodied in the vengeful recall attempt, there is a parallel opportunity for the public to rebuff the gun industry,” it read. “But enough voters must show up in defense of two lawmakers who conscientiously stood for public safety.”

“The gun lobby’s defeat in Colorado would send a stirring message to statehouses across the nation that the public must not be denied in demanding better gun safety,” the editorial read.

Carno agrees that the outcome of the elections may have national implications, but for reasons that are different from those of the Times editorial board. She said that if the recall is successful, it will show lawmakers that they risk their political careers if they stop paying attention to their constituents.

“What’s going on across the country is [the message] that if you listen to people other than your constituents, your constituents have the right to fire you,” she said. “And that’s what’s happening.”

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