In Colorado, the N.R.A. notches two more wins over Bloomberg

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The Gazette. ()
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After his preferred candidate went down to a humbling defeat in the city's Democratic primary last night, Mayor Michael Bloomberg lost two more races two time zones to the west.

State senators John Morse and Angela Giron were unable to beat back an aggressive recall effort by local and national gun-rights supporters, despite considerable financial backing from Bloomberg and others.

Morse, the senate president, and Giron, a key committee chair, were instrumental in passing a package of new gun laws in the wake of shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut. They were among four legislators who had been targeted by gun-rights groups, but the only two who were successfully put to a recall election.

Bloomberg, who has tried to make himself a one-man counterweight to the powerful National Rifle Association, personally contributed $350,000 to help defend Morse and Giron, a donation that also came with some political liability, as the mayor's help became front-page news and the subject of attacks from pro-gun forces.

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The N.R.A. also spent in excess of $350,000 on the recall efforts.

In a statement, Bloomberg said the results "do not change the fact that Coloradans are safer today because of the leadership demonstrated by Senators Morse, Giron and the rest of the Colorado lawmakers who voted for the bills."

Morse lost by just 343 votes, or less than two percent, according to the current tally reported by the Denver Post, in an election that saw fewer than 18,000 voters cast their ballots. Giron lost by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.

"The Washington gun lobby cherry-picked only four vulnerable senators – and after failing to gain public support in their bid to oust two of them, they funded a major campaign in a low-turnout, off-year election to defeat the other two," Bloomberg said in his statement.

"This election does not reflect the will of Coloradans, a majority of whom strongly support background checks and opposed these recalls. It was a reflection of a very small, carefully selected population of voters’ views on the legislature’s overall agenda this session."

It's a familiar problem for advocates of gun control, whose efforts to enact new gun laws often poll better than the opposition, but lack the level of intensity that drives pro-gun forces, who characterize the issue as one of fundamental constitutional freedoms.

The recall was seen as an important national test for both sides, as gun control advocates have tried to promise protection to state and national legislators who defy the gun lobby.

In his statement, Bloomberg said he will "continue to fight for sensible measures that reduce the scourge of gun violence and stand firmly behind elected officials who are devoted to saving the lives of innocent Americans.”