DENVER - Two Colorado state lawmakers who backed gun-control measures in the aftermath of the mass shootings in Aurora and Connecticut last year have been ousted in recall elections.
With El Paso County completely tallied, 50.96 percent of voters cast ballots to remove state Sen. John Morse, a Democrat, from office and 49.04 percent cast ballots to keep him, according to the Colorado Secretary of State.
Pueblo voters in Democratic Sen. Angela Giron's district approved her recall, with results coming in late Tuesday. Earlier returns showed voters favored keeping Giron in office but later results showed 56.01 percent of voters favored a recall for Giron while 43.99 percent did not, according to the Colorado Secretary of State.
Morse called the loss of his Senate seat "purely symbolic" during his concession speech in Colorado Springs. He reminded the crowd that Democrats still have control.
Morse was an appealing target for a recall because he narrowly won re-election in 2010. He supported several Democratic-sponsored gun bills this year.
Republican Bernie Herpin won 100 percent of the ballots to assume Morse's seat.
In Giron's race, voters chose Republican George Rivera, a former Pueblo police officer, to replace her.
Her working-class district favors her party but includes Democrats who are big supporters of the Second Amendment.
Both legislators voted for 15-round limits on ammunition magazines and for expanded background checks on private gun sales.
The heated race pitted gun-control supporters against advocates for gun ownership, and attracted heavy hitters such as the National Rifle Association and former U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords, severely injured in a 2011 gun massacre in Tucson.
The race attracted millions of dollars in support from either side. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who helps lead a mayor's group against gun violence, contributed $350,000 into the election, while the National Rifle Association expected to spend $500,000 on mailings, phone banks and TV ads.
Kurt Bardella, a communications consultant for the recall, said in an e-mailed statement, "The people of Colorado have made history tonight sending a loud and clear message that will reverberate through out the county and alter the terrain of the gun-control debate."
Gov. John Hickenlooper statement:
Our democracy gives the people the right to vote for their elected representatives. Tonight, voters in two Senate districts have spoken. We are certainly disappointed by the outcome of the recall elections.
It's now time we refocus again on what unites Coloradans -- creating jobs, educating our children, creating a healthier state -- and on finding ways to keep Colorado moving forward.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus statement:
Congratulations to Senators-elect Bernie Herpin and George Rivera on their victories," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "Bernie and George ran impressive campaigns and I'm confident they'll be strong additions to the Colorado Senate. Republicans are going to compete for every vote in Colorado and tonight is only the beginning of our path to victory in 2014.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns/Michael Bloomberg statement:
Tonight's results do not change the fact that Coloradans are safer today because of the leadership demonstrated by Senators Morse, Giron and the rest of the Colorado lawmakers who voted for the bills. The new laws they championed remain in place, despite the gun lobby's best efforts to stop them from passing.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)