COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - In the first recalls of state lawmakers in Colorado history, State Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron were both removed from office Tuesday by voters upset with their stance on gun control.
Unofficial final results updated by the El Paso County Clerk at 10:02 p.m. showed 50.96 percent of voters in District 11 wanted Morse to be recalled.
"The highest rank in a democracy is citizen, not senate president," he said at the conclusion of his concession speech, in which he promised to continue his work.
Giron, who was winning in the first preliminary data, has also lost. Unofficial results show 56 percent of voters in District 3 in favor of recalling her. As of 10:30 p.m., 34,556 votes had been counted.
Giron spoke to a crowd in her headquarters about 15 minutes after those results were posted.
"I'm a little perplexed, but this is what I know: I know that I have not one iota of regret from what I voted on," she said.
The two Democratic representatives faced these recall elections because of their support for gun control during the last legislative session. They both voted in favor of 15-round limits on ammunition magazines and for expanded background checks on private gun sales after the 2012 mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown, Conn. The legislation passed Colorado's Democrat-led Legislature this year without any Republican support and was signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The push to recall the two senators began early in the summer, with opponents gathering signatures on petitions to force the recall. The senators tried to challenge the wording of the petitions in court, but lost.
"I do worry that now that a recall has been successful, it will become a political tactic for both sides," Morse told reporters after his concession speech.
"I think that is a horrible way to govern," he added.
Morse served State Senate District 11, which includes most of central Colorado Springs. He was first elected to the state senate in 2006. He previously worked as a police officer in Colorado Springs, and the Chief of Police in Fountain.
The Republican candidate elected to replace Morse is former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin.
Giron served Senate District 3, which covers most of the City of Pueblo and Pueblo West. She was elected to state senate for the first time in 2010, after spending three decades working with the Boys and Girls Club.
Former Pueblo deputy chief of police George Rivera, a Republican, will replace her.
Both sides campaigned vigorously in the days leading up to the election. Our partners at The Denver Post reported last week that the National Rifle Association spent $361,703 in the recall efforts of Morse and Giron. One week earlier the newspaper reported that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $350,000 to a special issue committee backing the two imperiled senators.
El Paso County said about 21 percent of the eligible electorate cast ballots. Almost 36 percent voted in Pueblo County.