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The Tiny Recall Elections in Colorado With Big Ripples

Sometimes very small elections can have political impacts well beyond their actual legislative importance, and last night the NRA proved it.

Yesterday two Colorado Democratic state senators lost recall elections. Senate President John Morse and Angela Giron lost their seats to two Republicans.

The actual direct impact of these local elections is extremely small. The elections don’t even change the balance of power in Colorado because Democrats will still hold a one-seat majority in the Senate, but the political implications may be far reaching.

The NRA chose to make an example out of these two Democrats for approving a new gun control measure. They carefully selected their targets, carried through on their threat to stage recalls, and made sure to pick the optimal time to succeed.

Simply the idea of having to deal with the hassle of a recall election should make many local politicians question whether it is worth it to pursue gun control legislation, but the real possibility of actually losing their seats sends a much stronger threat.

The NRA again demonstrates how a well-funded organization with a modest base can exert incredibly influence by focusing on just a single issue. They don’t actually need to win over the public. They don’t need to moderate their position to try to find the “middle.” They just need to make it not worth the effort to take them on.

They simply need to convince their opponents in the legislatures across the country that the issue is not the best use of their limited time. After all, legislators have numerous priorities they care about and can only ever get to a few of them each session. A few successful recall elections can be enough to convince legislators who theoretically support gun control that it would be wiser to focus on any of their other goals.

Photo by esc.ape(d) under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at