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Colorado voters oppose recalling two Democratic state senators, but against new gun law

Majorities of Colorado voters would not recall the two Democratic state senators, who are facing recall elections Sept. 10th, according to a Quinnipiac poll out Thursday. But they are largely against the stricter gun laws passed in the state earlier this year.

The two targeted Democrats are State Senate President John Morse, of the Colorado Springs area, and Angela Giron (pronounced hee-ROHN) from Pueblo. The poll was of statewide voters and not in the specific state senate districts, but Morse's district is fairly evenly split and Giron's leans more Democratic.

Of Morse, 54 percent said they do not think he should be removed from offic; 35 percent said he should be.

A similar 52 percent said Giron should remain in office; 36 percent said she should be removed.

Morse is term-limited and will not be in office next year. Giron is up for reelection in 2014.

The two Democrats became the subject of recalls because of their support for stricter gun laws that passed in Colorado earlier this year. The National Rifle Association and conservatives aimed to recall four Democratic lawmakers, but were only able to gather enough petition signatures for Morse and Giron.

Of the gun law itself, a majority -- 54 percent -- say they are against it, and 53 percent say it goes too far.

The most controversial portion of the law was a 15-round magazine limit. Coloradans are split on that provision -- 49-48 percent. They are overwhelmingly in favor of requiring background checks -- 82 percent. 

In First Thoughts yesterday, we broke down the Colorado recalls, how they'll work, and what you should know about them, including the potential national implications:

*** Total Recall: Colorado edition: It was just a year ago that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was able to survive an attempt to recall him from office. And it was two years ago when other recall races against GOP legislators rocked the state. Now, the shoe’s on the other foot for Democrats in Colorado. After state Democrats pushed through gun restrictions, the National Rifle Association and state Republicans pushed to recall four Democrats. They gathered enough signatures to get two on the ballot -- state Senate President John Morse, a former police chief from Fountain (just south of Colorado Springs), and Angela Giron (pronounced hee-ROHN) of Pueblo. After a district court judge validated those petitions, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper set the date for the state’s first-ever recalls for Sept. 10. The races won’t affect control of the state legislature – Democrats control the state Senate 20-15, so even if Republicans pick up both seats, they would be one short of control. But the race has become about more than guns and has national implications. Here’s everything you need to know about the elections and why they matter:

-- Meet the candidates: In Colorado Springs, State Sen. President John Morse, who’s term limited and won’t be in office in 2014 regardless of the recall outcome faces off against Bernie Herpin, a former Colorado Springs city councilman. In Pueblo, Giron is in her first term. Running against her is George Rivera, a retired deputy police chief from Pueblo.

-- How the election will work: The language is still being finalized, but it is a two-step ballot that asks: (1) Should the incumbent be recalled? And then (2) Who would you pick to replace them?

-- About more than guns: The race has become about much more than guns with each side warning that the other will push a radical agenda. Republicans say they are fed up with Democratic control, including pushing a bill that, they say, would increase energy prices for rural Coloradans. Democrats, on the other hand, have pointed out the two Republican candidates’ past support for the failed 2010 and 2012 Personhood Amendments. Ads are running from a Democratic-aligned group accusing the GOP candidates of being in favor of bans on birth control and supporting police to investigate miscarriages.

-- Warning shot at Democrats: Democrats are also concerned that Republicans and the NRA, in particular, are using these elections to fire a warning shot at Democrats around the country. The message: Don’t go through with whatever legislation you were thinking about, because if you do, we’ll come after you. They feel like there’s more at stake than just for these two races 45 miles apart from each other. Democrats feel this way, especially considering that Morse is term-limited and will be out of office in 2014, and Giron is up for reelection next year.

-- No vote-by-mail: There won’t be vote-by-mail, which has become popular in Colorado. This can pose big problems for voters, because it’s the first time in about 20 years that all Coloradans will have to physically go to the polls. The state Supreme Court ruled Monday, in a case brought by libertarians, that Colorado won’t be all vote-by-mail this time due to a 1912 law meant to help third-party candidates get on the ballot. That will mean higher cost, lower turnout, and much bigger-than-anticipated GOTV efforts. That could mean the side with the most passion has an inside track, but neither side is sure who benefits at this point with both calling the races “difficult.”

-- Higher cost than expected: Speaking of cost, the price tag will be close to $500,000, higher than first expected. The Pueblo County Clerk told First Read that his county is at $246,000 with the cost likely to go up with ballots printing around Labor Day and with polling place costs. (Early voting begins Sept. 5.) The El Paso County Clerk’s office says they are up to $190,000 with projected costs being around $200,000.