How the West was won: Colorado recall elections influence 2014 midterm

The experts all said it couldn’t be done.  We, the people, said otherwise. Photo: Associated Press

COLORADO, September 26, 2013 — Colorado State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron were “unelected” due to their controversial gun control votes in the first recall election in Colorado State history. And so it unfolded that a rag-tag team of plumbers, oil field workers, gun lovers, women and citizens who had never run a political campaign before ousted two of the most powerful officials in that battleground state. 

The people — those plumbers, oil workers, gun lovers and citizens — were not supposed to win. The experts said they couldn’t possibly win. Yet they stumbled their way into history, finding themselves on the front lines of what The New York Times called “a national referendum on gun rights.”

SEE RELATED: After the recalls, Colorado remains a hotbed of activity

This motivated group engaged in a multi-front war against a litany of opponents that read like a Who’s-Who of progressive politics: DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz; New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) PAC; President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action (OFA); and even former President Bill Clinton, who recorded robocalls for the opposition. 

Outspent 11-to-1, the grassroots effort managed not only to prevail but, as CBS News reported the morning after the elections, to “change the landscape of politics” altogether. A chill has certainly been cast over the State Capitol here, and already our group has signaled the next step in the war: a full repeal of Colorado’s unconstitutional gun laws.

Colorado lawmakers are not the only ones who were put on notice.

As the first “swing state” to hold an election since the 2012 presidential elections, Colorado’s vote provides important clues about the mood of the electorate leading up to the 2014 mid-term elections. Regular, everyday citizens who haven’t traditionally engaged in politics have grown sick of government overreach, whether from Washington or from their statehouses.

SEE RELATED: Colorado’s win for ‘the little guy’ propels effort to repeal gun laws

Colorado voters swept a Democratic majority into both houses of the state legislature. With Obama’s re-election, that majority introduced the most progressive agenda in Colorado’s history, including the strictest gun control in the nation, along with a $1 billion-per-year tax increase that goes to bail out the public employees’ pension debt. Another $4.5 billion in green energy mandates, during one of the worst economic downturns the nation has ever seen, was the final insult to the people of Colorado.

During many debates, the Democratic majority used Nancy Pelosi-style tactics to pass bills, often shutting down testimony, rescheduling committee hearings so the general public could not attend them, and introducing new bills at the eleventh hour. Read, “we have to pass it before we can tell you what’s in it.”

These tactics struck a nerve in a people who were watching the same arrogance unfold on a national stage: the NSA spying on Americans’ cellphone records; the DOJ seizing AP phone records; and improper if not unlawful IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups.

The result was a blowback against massive government overreach. 

SEE RELATED: No excuses: What was really behind the Colorado recalls

The laws of physics say that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the case of Colorado’s recalls, the reaction was much stronger than anyone would have thought.

The GOP base is looking for leadership that won’t waiver. In Colorado, that leadership was lacking, as even our own Republican Party worked against the recall efforts, quietly placing phone calls, advising one candidate to “prepare a gracious concession speech” before the polls even closed.

That concession speech was never needed. The people prevailed.

Rush Limbaugh said last week, “I want to close the loop here in what happened in Colorado.  ‘Cause, folks, you’re all looking for signs. Everybody’s looking for signs. This is it. This in Colorado, this is grassroots. This is a majority. This is people unwilling to sit by — and if they don’t have any political leadership to get behind, they will take matters into their own hands and do it. Our previous caller who said the grassroots made all this, she was exactly right.”

And as the saying goes, Rush is right.

Political parties would be wise to pay attention to what went on in Colorado. What happened out West provides the GOP a road map on how to win the 2014 mid-term elections: Listen to the people, respect the power of the grassroots who can put boots on the ground for you, and show real leadership in taking on big government.

It has proven to be a winning formula here and it can translate to win other states in 2014.

Fortunately for Republicans, the Democrats have missed the point entirely. Before the polls even closed in Colorado, rather than acknowledging the Democrats’ gun control overreach, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz suggested it was “voter suppression” relating to Colorado’s new election laws that delivered Republicans the election.

Never mind the fact that the election laws used in Colorado’s historic recall are precisely the same laws that were in place when Wasserman-Schultz was elected in Florida.

Tone deafness like this, along with returning power to the people, is what will help Republicans take back seats in the 2014 midterms.


Jennifer Kerns served as the Spokeswoman and Communications Director for the Colorado Recalls and is a GOP media strategist based in the Western States region.

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Jennifer Kerns


Jennifer Kerns is a writer/journalist and a GOP Media Strategist in the Western States region. She has served as Spokeswoman for the first-ever Colorado Recall elections, defeating the Democratic National Committee and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors against Illegal Guns (MAIG) PAC in a battleground state.  She previously served as Spokeswoman for the California Republican Party, a political appointee of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Spokeswoman for the historic Prop. 8 campaign.  An aggressive communicator, she strongly advocates that conservatives work proactively with the Media, and she is the only Republican Press Secretary to have ever won 52 unanimous newspaper endorsements for her candidates including liberal publications such as The San Francisco ChronicleThe Los Angeles Times, and the Spanish-language La Opinion.

Contact Jennifer Kerns


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