COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Republicans were quick to open fire Thursday after former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg portrayed Colorado Springs and Pueblo -- where voters recalled Democratic state senators for backing gun control laws -- as roadless backwaters.
Bloomberg, the billionaire who has bankrolled gun-safety campaigns and who gave large sums to the senators who were ultimately recalled, made the comments in a Rolling Stone story that was published online Tuesday.
"In Colorado, we got a law passed," Bloomberg told the magazine, referring to legislation passed by Democratic state lawmakers in 2013 that expanded background checks on gun buyers and limited the capacity of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds.
"The NRA went after two or three state senators in a part of Colorado where I don't think there's roads. It's as far rural as you can get," Bloomberg added. "And, yes, they lost recall elections. I'm sorry for that. We tried to help 'em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced. You can get depressed about the progress, but on the other hand, you're saving a lot of lives."
Bloomberg was talking about Democratic state senators John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo, two strong supporters of gun control legislation who were recalled last fall and replaced by Republicans.
State Republicans jumped at the chance to entangle U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper -- Democrats fighting for re-election -- with Bloomberg's remarks.
"Just for the record, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Jefferson County all have roads. I just traveled them," said Bob Beauprez, the Republican candidate for governor.
"Michael Bloomberg’s infuriatingly ignorant remarks show how far removed he is from Colorado, and how wrong John Hickenlooper was to let Bloomberg force his radical agenda on Colorado. It’s pathetic a New York City Mayor had more influence in our governor’s office than our state’s sheriffs," Beauprez added, referring to 54 Colorado sheriffs who unsuccessfully sued the governor over the gun control laws they called unconstitutional.
Hickenlooper's spokesman, Eddie Stern, pivoted to the resurgent state economy, the central theme of the re-election campaign, to salute the two Front Range cities, The Denver Post reported.
"Colorado Springs and Pueblo are making us all proud right now and both have the economic momentum that brought their unemployment rate down by more than a third since John took office," Stern said. "They're incredible communities and John was in Colorado Springs yesterday with veterans promoting economic development and was in Pueblo recently signing a bill to improve train service and economic activity in the area."
Republican Rep. Cory Gardner challenged Udall -- his senate race opponent -- to repudiate Bloomberg's comments.
"Senator Udall and his biggest supporters continue to show what they really think of Coloradans,” Gardner said in a statement. "Does Senator Udall agree with Michael Bloomberg? His continued silence is leaving Coloradans little room to believe otherwise. Instead of listening to his constituents, Senator Udall decided long ago that he prefers to rubber-stamp agendas from his out of state backers and the President — Coloradans are seeing proof of this once again."
Udall’s campaign spokesman, James Owens, later said, "Mayor Bloomberg is way off base about Pueblo and Colorado Springs, two of Colorado’s strongest and proudest communities," the Post reported.