(Centennial Fellow) After the stunning recall of two Democrat state senators who led the legislature’s lurch to the loony left, maybe there’s still hope for freedom in Colorado after all – but only if more Coloradans become fierce defenders of their freedoms.
The ouster of Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) was remarkable on many fronts. Never before has a sitting Colorado legislator been recalled. Even more impressive were overwhelming odds that recall proponents faced.
With very little outside help and ample skepticism from observers, two motivated groups of local citizens – Basic Freedom Defense Fund in Colorado Springs and Pueblo Freedom and Rights – worked their tails off on a shoestring budget to collect enough signatures to force two incumbents to justify why they should remain in office.
Those citizens later received substantial support from gun rights groups and others but were outspent 7-to-1 by backers of Morse and Giron. The incumbents’ machine unleashed a torrent of frivolous lawsuits to try to derail the election and raked in more than $3 million, including a personal check of $350,000 from gun-grabbing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Dethroning the senate president is satisfying mostly due to Morse’s unbounded arrogance, but the Pueblo result was refreshing because it re-affirms that Democrats in some locales still value core freedoms – unlike the Denver-Boulder variety who so often behave as if the only freedoms worth fighting for involve sex and drugs.
Giron was elected in the heavily-Democrat seat by 10% in 2010, but lost the recall by 12%. The only explanation is that many blue-collar Pueblo Democrats were fed up by Giron’s kowtowing to so many liberal lobbyists in Denver while ignoring her constituents back home.
At the Capitol this year, the “moderate Democrat” was severely endangered as liberal party leaders, like Morse, whipped Democrats who campaigned as moderates into voting for unreasonable gun control, unaffordable energy mandates, and unsecured voter registration.
Although this victory for freedom is encouraging, it doesn’t reverse the damage done by the state legislature.
* Honest Coloradans will still run afoul of recklessly-written gun control laws.
* Dishonest “voters” can still register fraudulently on Election Day and cast ballots that dilute the power of legitimate voters – with no way to distinguish between the two.
* Rural Coloradans will pay for a ridiculous renewable energy mandate that can’t be fixed unless it’s repealed. A “study committee” can do little more than put lipstick on this pig.
* Coloradans who take their faith seriously, while wishing no ill will toward homosexuals, will nevertheless risk prosecution for unlawful discrimination.
Those bills and others remain the law of the state unless repealed. That requires a new bill to pass the House and the Senate and then to be signed by the Governor – which is highly unlikely to happen before the 2014 election.
“The national story is about guns, but the story in Colorado really is about power and what the Democrats learn from this blowback,” pollster Floyd Ciruli told The Denver Post. “People thought they weren’t being listened to.”
Ciruli’s observation is especially insightful given that he is a Pueblo native and former chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party.
How Gov. John Hickenlooper responds remains to be seen. His initial reaction (“I’ll have to do a better job of getting the facts out there.”) isn’t encouraging.
Hickenlooper’s “facts” in support of these controversial bills are hardly decisive, much less irrefutable. They are a mixture of factoids, observations and arguments that might be persuasive for those who agree. Those who disagree hold another viewpoint supported by equally-valid “facts.”
As governor elected statewide, Hickenlooper has a greater obligation than legislators to understand opposing viewpoints, even if he doesn’t agree with them. Doing so would help him decide whether his own policy preferences must rule the day or whether to allow dissenters the freedom to disagree without making them lawbreakers by the stroke of his pen.