The leader of the Colorado state senate lost his job in the state’s first ever legislative recall Tuesday and a second Democratic lawmaker challenged over her support for stricter gun laws after last year’s mass shootings also appeared in trouble in a race seen as a measure of popular support for gun legislation.
Senate President John Morse faced a tough election in the Republican stronghold of Colorado Springs, where he won re-election by just a few hundred votes in 2010.
“We as the Democratic party will continue to fight,” Morse told supporters in Colorado Springs as he conceded the race.
With 94 percent of the projected vote counted, voters in Colorado Springs favored recalling Morse by 51 percent to 49 percent.
Republican Bernie Herpin, a former Colorado Springs city councilman, will replace him.
Sen. Angela Giron was also struggling in Pueblo County. With about 45 percent of projected results in, 56 percent of voters favored the recall.
Angered by new limits on ammunition magazines and expanded background checks, gun-rights activists filed enough voter signatures for the recall elections — the first for state legislators since Colorado adopted the procedure in 1912.
The recalls were seen as the latest chapter in the national debate over gun rights — and, for some, a warning to lawmakers in swing states who might contemplate gun restrictions in the future. But gun rights activists’ efforts to force recall elections for two other Colorado Democrats failed this year.
Tuesday’s vote also exposed divisions between Colorado’s growing urban and suburban areas and its rural towns. Dozens of elected county sheriffs have sued to block the gun laws and some activists are promoting a largely symbolic measure to secede from the state.