It is true that the recall didn’t have Colorado’s accustomed voting by mail and turnout was low, but it was a free and fair election. As for the NRA and the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity, they certainly played in Colorado. The pro-recall forces were still badly outspent, by as much as 8-to-1 according to some estimates. Mayor Bloomberg wrote a check for $350,000.
For his part, Victor Head embarked months ago on a grass-roots campaign to take on city hall. When he heard that Colorado was going to adopt new gun-control measures in the wake of Newtown, Conn., Head initiated what would become the recall with that most fearsome of political weapons — some fliers.
He printed and distributed them to local gun clubs to make people aware of an upcoming town hall meeting for Giron. Head got dozens of people there, but he felt Giron short-circuited the discussion. At the next town hall, he again handed out fliers to build a crowd, but this time Giron ruled that the discussion was to be exclusively about mortgages.
Head still got Giron to agree to hold one more town hall before the vote on guns, and this time roughly 1,000 people showed up. If Giron didn’t realize then that she had a populist revolt on her hands, she needed to be in a different line of work — and now she is.
What so got under Head’s skin, the sense that his representative wasn’t listening to him, added fuel to the recalls more broadly. Morse turned away people who wanted to testify on the measures in the Senate. It was a notable act of highhandedness in a body that, as Dave Kopel of the Colorado-based Independence Institute points out, usually has limitless patience for citizen input.
The anti-recall side can now make excuses, but it used to be cleareyed about the stakes. In an interview with The New Republic prior to the recall, Giron explained, “For Mayors Against Illegal Guns, if they lose even one of these seats, they might as well fold it up. And they understand that.”
Score one for the plumber.
— Rich Lowry may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.