Focus group: Colorado recalls weren’t all about the guns

Greg Campbell | Contributor

A focus group conducted among Democratic voters in Pueblo, Colorado, found that former state Sen. Angela Giron was ousted during a contentious recall election in September as much because voters disliked her as for her support of the state’s new restrictions on gun ownership.

“[I]t wasn’t the gun laws alone that cost Giron her seat, but a deep-seated dislike for and mistrust of the lawmaker herself among many Democrats in her hometown,” reported Denver’s FOX31, which obtained the results of the poll.

The conclusions first came to light at a strategy meeting of gun control advocates in Denver last weekend, where they discussed strategies for protecting Colorado’s tough new laws that led to two recalls and one attempted recall in which the targeted politician resigned.

Voters in Giron’s district told pollsters they believed she had “gone Denver” and lost touch with her constituents. They felt she was more prone to taking orders from party bosses than honoring the values of her district. Respondents also pinged her for not mentioning gun control in her ads, which led to the perception that she was ducking the issue.

“She was trying to hide her votes,” Fox31 reported one person saying, while another said “She couldn’t be trusted as an independent voice to represent Pueblo.”

Both Giron and former Senate President John Morse, who was also recalled, blamed myriad other factors for their defeat, including “voter suppression” and a failure of supporters to turn out at polls.

The focus group concluded that, at least in Giron’s case, the recall was all about her, not her Republican opponent, George Rivera, who voters admitted they barely knew.

“There’s not always someone you want to vote for,” Fox31 reported one respondent as saying. “But there’s always someone you want to vote against.”

The gun control laws — which limit the size of ammunition magazines and require universal background checks for all firearms transfers — will play a big role in Colorado’s 2014 elections.

Dudley Brown, the president of the National Association for Gun Rights, told the Washington Post that his group will use the new laws as a “sledgehammer” against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking reelection, and any other politician, regardless of political affiliation, who has gone “weak-kneed” on the issue.

“I’m going to wade through their China shop,” he told the newspaper.

But the Post also reported the gun control advocates are ready for the fight, describing the Denver meeting as a means of “plotting their revenge.” The advocates not only discussed how to protect legislators from future recalls but also about mounting some of their own against Republicans who try to repeal the laws, the paper reported.

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