Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has finally taken a decisive stand on an issue facing his state.
Hickenlooper came out in firm opposition to the recall efforts against Democratic state senators who supported Colorado’s tough new gun-control laws.
“These recall elections cost a small fortune and do nothing to improve democracy or representative government,” he wrote in what was described by liberal blog ColoradoPols as a “nationwide appeal” sent via the Democratic National Committee.
“They are intended to intimidate and punish a select number of Democratic legislators for daring to vote their conscience — for daring to do the right thing to make their communities safer,” he wrote.
State Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron are fighting to keep their jobs after supporting controversial bills that limit the size of ammunition magazines and require background checks for all gun transfers.
The recalls are the first in Colorado history aimed at state legislators and they have threatened in recent weeks to devolve into farce.
Early in the process several high-profile GOP leaders endorsed a candidate to replace Morse who, it was later discovered, wrote erotic literature under a pen name. After a different candidate was chosen, the erotic author sent the Republican Party chairman and others a Freeman-like demand for payment of $54 million, claiming damage to her reputation.
More recently, plans to conduct the elections by mail-in ballot were derailed when the Libertarian Party sued over conflicts between a newly passed election reform law and the Colorado Constitution. That required county clerks to adopt emergency rules for conducting the election in-person.
Although the Libertarian candidate failed to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot, the party went back to court this week to challenge the validity of email voting that county clerks plan to use for overseas military voters. A ruling on that matter is pending.
Until now, Hickenlooper has mostly kept out of the fray. But in his statement, he praised the Democratic-controlled state legislature for passing some of the toughest new restrictions on firearms in the country.
“After the senseless shootings in Aurora last year, we studied the facts and talked to a wide range of people — including Second Amendment advocates — about how we could prevent gun violence,” Hickenlooper wrote. “We passed legislation improving mental health services, modest restrictions on future sales of high capacity gun magazines, and universal background checks.”
“We were only able to pass the law because Democratic legislators had the courage to stand up to outside special interests — but now those groups are trying to make an example of two of them by forcing them into a recall election.”
Hickenlooper pointed to state statistics that show 5,000 people failed background checks last year for a variety of reasons, including convictions for homicide, sexual assault and felony assault.
“Expanding background checks to cover all gun sales prevents violent criminals from acquiring guns,” Hickenlooper wrote. “That means safer communities while also respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Coloradans.”
The recall elections are scheduled for Sept. 10.
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