The National Rifle Association continues to lead the effort to recall Colorado state senators John Morse and Angela Giron, both Democrats, in an effort to dissuade politicians from voting in favor of future gun reform meaures.
State Senate President Morse and Senator Giron became NRA targets after voting in favor of bills to strengthen gun sale background checks and limit most magazines to 15 rounds in March. Since then, the NRA has been leading a controversial and costly effort to recall them from office in a September 10 referendum.
On Monday, the New York Times reported that the NRA-led campaign to unseat Morse and Giron has raised about $2 million.
That number jumped on Wednesday after the NRA increased its financial support with an additional $250,000. That donation follows over $100,000 in previous spending on the recall elections.
The NRA’s donations have been matched by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave a $350,000 donation to Taxpayers for Responsible Democracy, one of the many groups fighting the recall election. Bloomberg, who co-founded the Mayors against Illegal Guns Coalition, has become arguably the most prominent proponent of gun reform in the country.
Groups supported by the NRA have raised over a million dollars and have used it to help the NRA advertise against Senators Morse and Giron.
The NRA money is being used for mailings, radio, cable and online ads. One NRA-backed advertisement accused Morse of taking “marching orders” from “billionaire playboy” Mayor Bloomberg. The executive director of another group supported by the NRA, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, compared Morse, Giron and other proponents of gun control to “peasants” who have “grabbed ahold of their pitchforks and torches.”
The money raised by the NRA and other pro-gun groups has also gone toward establishing committees to further the NRA’s recall efforts and promote replacement candidates. As of Wednesday, at least eight committees were established.
Even as the NRA continues to raise money from private donors and gun groups, the elections’ outcomes are especially difficult to predict, as there is no telling how constituents in Colorado – a swing state with a long history of “hunting, sport shooting and gun ownership” – will vote.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on August 22, found that 54 percent of Colorado voters do not support Morse’s recall election and 52 percent do not support Giron’s.
The poll also found that 60 percent of voters felt that “when people don’t agree with a legislator, they should wait for a re-election, rather than attempt a recall.”
Both candidates – who have raised a combined $2 million through donations from wealthy and influential politicians, PACs, philanthropists and pro-gun-control interest groups — remain confident that they will not lose their seats after the September 10 elections.
Morse – who will retire in 2014 because of term limits – has used contributions he has received for advertisements, but he has also been campaigning door-to-door in his moderate district and reminding voters of Colorado’s tragic Columbine and Aurora shootings.
“How does that happen and you don’t stand up and say, ‘We have to fix this’?” Morse asked, adding that he does not regret voting for gun reform even if it costs him his seat.
Giron has also been campaigning in her left-leaning district and said that she is “very confident” that her earlier vote for gun control measures reflected what a “majority” of her constituents wanted, and believes that she has their support on September 10.
On Tuesday, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper (D) voiced strong opposition to the recall elections in an email to the Democratic Party. He wrote, “These recall elections cost a small fortune and do nothing to improve democracy or representative government. 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.”