Never mess with the NRA

The NRA are some of the best campaigners in the world. They are motivated, coordinated and effective in getting what they want. Especially if you are an anti-gun politician. 

At first, Angela Giron was surprised to find herself in the cross hairs of a campaign to recall Colorado lawmakers who had supported a slate of new gun-control laws. She had won her State Senate seat by a 10-point margin. Her Southern Colorado district is heavily Hispanic and reliably Democratic, hardly ideal terrain to oust a lawmaker with Mexican roots whose mother once worked picking beans.

“I thought, what the heck?” Ms. Giron said. “Why would they do that?”

But over the summer, Ms. Giron found herself at the center of a citizen-led recall campaign heavily financed by the National Rifle Association and other conservative groups and Second Amendment advocates, who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertisements and mailings to oust her  and a fellow Democrat, John Morse, the president of the Colorado Senate. 

They are effective at using recall elections to oust sitting politicians who have an anti-gun agenda. Recall elections are something that we should look at in New Zealand, particularly in local body government.

The campaigns have grown from a novelty into the central political battle here in Colorado. Fiercely fought and heavily financed by outside groups, they are widely seen as referendums on whether swing-state Democrats can survive the populist reaction after supporting gun restrictions.

On Tuesday, constituents in this struggling old steel town will go to the polls to decide whether Ms. Giron should be ejected from office before her term is up. A former police official, George Rivera, will be on the ballot as her potential Republican replacement. Mr. Morse, too, will face a recall vote in his Colorado Springs district, about 45 miles to the north.

The NRA has been working hard.

[S]he decided to vote for the gun laws, though at the last minute, she reversed course and withdrew her support for a bill that would have restricted concealed weapons on college campuses. Her votes infuriated conservatives and Second Amendment advocates around Pueblo. They said Ms. Giron had sold herself to voters as a moderate Democrat with rural values when she was first elected in 2010, and they felt betrayed by her stance on gun control.

After the laws were signed, Victor Head, a plumber, borrowed $4,000 from his grandmother and started gathering signatures to put Ms. Giron’s name on the ballot for a special recall election. He said he was taken aback by the flood of attention and cash.

“I didn’t realize the implications it would have,” Mr. Head said.

In Pueblo, more than 23,000 people have voted early, but gun control was not always the driving factor behind their decision. Several people interviewed Sunday said they were just dedicated liberals or conservatives, voting along party lines. Some said that they disagreed with Ms. Giron’s gun votes, but that they were even more against an expensive special election to recall her.

But Jim Nunn and his wife, both supporters of the recall, relished the chance to replace Ms. Giron with a candidate with more conservative social and economic views.

“It gives us a chance to voice our opinions a little louder,” Mr. Nunn said. “If we’d have waited, people would have forgotten.”

We should know the results of the recall election sometime later today.

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