Angela Giron recall, Colorado State Senate (2013)

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An effort to recall Angela Giron, a member of the Democratic Party, from her elected position representing District 3 in the Colorado State Senate was launched on May 12, 2013. The recall took place on September 10, 2013. Giron was successfully recalled.

Giron faced a recall for her support of gun control legislation. The legislature drew particular ire for passing these bills as "emergency legislation," circumventing any possible voter referendum.[1][2]

Giron faced George Rivera in the recall election.[3]

Giron, who faced a recall along with Senate President John Morse, was the first elected official at the state level to be the target of a successful recall petition.[4]


Following the successful recalls of Giron and Morse, Democrats in the Colorado State Senate held the majority by only one vote. Because of this narrow majority, Republicans have the chance to influence who the next Senate President is. Although the majority caucus (Democrats) selects a nominee, that person must be confirmed by the entire chamber. Traditionally, the minority caucus votes with the majority one, though some conservative Democrats are considering allying with Republicans to choose a different Senate President.[5]

In April 2014, the Colorado State Legislature passed a recall reform bill along party lines to address issues brought up during this recall. The bill changed the filing deadline for replacement candidates to 15 days before clerks send out mail-in ballots rather than 15 days before the election, making mail-in ballots a viable voting method for recalls. The law also changed the two-vote ballot system that was ruled unconstitutional that required someone to vote in favor of the recall in order to select a replacement candidate. Scott Gessler (R), the Colorado Secretary of State, voiced his concern over the legislation as "a constitutional overreach."[6][7]

Recall results

Giron was successfully recalled. George Rivera (R) was chosen to replace her in the Colorado State Senate.[8]

Shall Angelo Giron be recalled from the office of State Senate, District 3?
Approveda Recall19,35556.01%
Candidates nominated to succeed Angela Giron should se be recalled:
ApprovedaGeorge Rivera (R) 19,301 88.16%
DefeateddWrite-in 2,592 11.84%


A package of three gun control bills, passed in February 2013, is seen as the cause of this recall election.

  • House Bill 13-224 restricts the magazine size allowed or manufactured in the state.
  • House Bill 13-228 requires the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to recoup costs related to background checks and creating a legislative appropriation for such costs.
  • House Bill 13-229 enforces background checks for the transfer of a firearm between two private individuals.

Text of measure

The official ballot text reads as follows:[9]

Recall Question

Shall Angelo Giron be recalled from the office of State Senate, District 3?

Yes [ ]

No [ ]


Successor Candidates (Vote for One)

Candidates nominated to succeed Angela Giron should se be recalled:

Republican Party George Rivera [ ]

Independent Write-in [ ]


Supporting arguments

Second Amendment issue

Pubelo Freedom and Rights (PFR) lead the recall effort against Giron. Victor Head, President of PFR, said of Giron: “[Her] disregard for the majority of her constituents to vote no on anti-Second Amendment issues and her general disregard of our Constitution and the rights of the citizens of Colorado demonstrates she must be removed from the Senate.”[11] Ray Stafford, General Manager of The Pueblo Chieftain, caused controversy when he signed the recall petition against Giron. Stafford defended his decision, stating that "I am the General Manager and responsible for the entire newspaper, including the newsroom. I want you to know I oppose all the bills currently being considered.”[12]


Former Colorado House of Representatives Minority Leader Sal Pace offered his support of Giron, and her campaign pointed out that Pace has an "A" rating with the National Rifle Association. “Sen. Giron’s opponents are extremists who say they want to send a ‘wave of fear’ through Colorado and the nation,” Pace offered in a statement. “Pueblo should stand up to them and tell them we don’t want to be ruled by fear — we want to be ruled by someone who stands up for our working families and our community — that’s Angela Giron.” On August 29, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) released a statement in support for the senators: "We were only able to pass the law because Democratic legislators had the courage to stand up to outside special interests — but now those groups are trying to make an example of two of them by forcing them into a recall election."[13] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $350,000 to the defense efforts of Morse and Giron.[14][15]

Giron's response

On June 9, Giron issued the following statement:[11]

“Over the past several months I have been out in the community and what I do know from speaking with my constituents is they support the work I’ve done. … They know I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and that the bills passed this session were carefully written to strike a balance between protecting our communities and families, while respecting the rights of gun owners.”

In response to a court ruling on July 18, Giron stated:[16]

“I am ready and eager for the Sept. 10 election. This last legislative session was my best yet and this is a great opportunity to continue talking to folks in Pueblo about all our success. In the meantime, I continue to work hard and represent Pueblo.”

What's at stake?

This recall election is seen by many as a national referendum on gun control. Michael Bloomberg, who is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), offered $350,000 to a group backing the senators, while Eli Broad gave the same group $250,000. On the other side, the National Rifle Association has contributed more than $100,000 to the groups opposing Giron and Morse, while the conservative-linked Koch brothers have provided undisclosed amounts of support through "voter education." When asked what this recall meant to MAIG, Giron offered the following statement: "For Mayors Against Illegal Guns, if they lose even one of these seats, they might as well fold it up. And they understand that." Naturally, both sides are pointing to the others' outside spending in hopes of garnering support.[17]

Aside from guns, however, a number of other issues have cropped up. Much like a general election, questions have been raised on both sides about key issues such as abortion, the environment, healthcare, and taxes. Herpin and Rivera each have anti-abortion backgrounds, prompting Planned Parenthood to get involved in the recalls. Conservation Colorado, a group dealing in environmental issues, donated $75,000 to an anti-recall group. Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch brothers, has made the senators' records on the Affordable Care Act, taxes, and renewable energy the focus of a "voter education" campaign. Because it is claiming its actions do not directly involve the recall election, Americans for Prosperity is not required to report its spending.[17]

Aside from the national gun control debate, stakes are high for Democrats in Colorado. If both of these recalls are successful, the Democratic majority in the Colorado State Senate would be reduced to one seat, leaving them vulnerable in the 2014 election.[18]


A statewide poll conducted by Quinnipiac University revealed the following:[19]

When disapproving of a politician, should one wait for re-election or attempt a recall?
Poll Re-election RecallMargin of ErrorSample Size
Quinnipiac University - August 22, 2013
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to
Do you approve of the gun control legislation passed by the legislature?
Poll Yes NoMargin of ErrorSample Size
Quinnipiac University - August 22, 2013
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in Colorado

Supporters of the recall needed to collect 11,500 valid signatures by June 10 to force a recall election. More than 13,500 signatures were turned in to the Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who had until July 1 to certify them.[20] On June 24, Gessler announced that 12,650 signatures were valid and that the recall would proceed. Giron contested the legality of the petition, but was rebuffed on July 3 when Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert ruled the recall petition constitutional and that the recall process would proceed.[21]


Legality of petitions

Giron filed a lawsuit with the Denver District Court to invalidate signatures accepted by the Secretary of State's office. Giron's lawyer argued that the petition language violated the state's constitution because it lacked verbiage demanding the election of a replacement for the recalled official. This case was thrown out by Judge Robert Hyatt, who claimed that the recall process was a "fundamental [right] of a republican form of government." Hyatt further stated that the law must be "liberally construed" to allow constituents to exercises those fundamental rights.[22]

Extended filing deadline

The Libertarian Party of Colorado sued Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R), charging that a recently-passed law which calls for elections to be held by mail conflicts with a constitutional provision allowing for candidates to qualify for 15 days before an election. Only Republican candidates were able to qualify before the ballot printing deadline, and some 600 ballots had already been printed and mailed by the time of the decision. On August 15, District Judge Robert McGahey granted more time for candidates to file to run in the recall election, extending the deadline to August 26. In his ruling, McGahey said that the state constitution takes precedence over state statute, and chided the Colorado General Assembly for not considering the article on recalls in passing the elections law.[23][24][25]

Gessler announced that because of this ruling, there would not be enough time to print mail-in ballots for the election. Pueblo County Clerk Bo Ortiz (D) filed an appeal, saying that because voters will now have to appear in person to cast a ballot, an estimated 900 overseas voters including active military might not be able to take part in the elections.[26]

Recall ballot process

On August 26, Gov. John Hickenlooper filed a request with the Colorado Supreme Court to clarify whether or not voters would be required to vote in favor of a recall in order to also vote for a replacement. Hickenlooper noted that in 2003 a similar procedure was ruled unconstitutional in California after voters were required to vote on the recall before getting to choose a candidate. On August 28, the Colorado court agreed with the California one, so voters are not required to offer an opinion on the recall before selecting a candidate.[27][28]

Campaign contributions

Recall supporters

The following are known contributors for the recall:[17][29][30]

  • National Rifle Association - $108,000
  • Americans for Prosperity - Undisclosed
  • Pueblo Freedom and Rights - $24,000

Recall opponents

The following are known contributors against the recall:[17][29][30]

  • Michael Bloomberg - $350,000
  • Eli Broad - $250,000
  • Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee - $250,000
  • Service Employees International Union - $100,000
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - $100,000
  • Conservation Colorado - $75,000


  • May 12: Recall paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State.
  • June 10: Deadline to collect 11,500 signatures to force a recall election. Recall supporters turned in 13,500 signatures.
  • June 24: 12,650 signatures verified by the Colorado Secretary of State. Giron's lawyers file dispute.
  • July 3: Petition ruled constitutional by Colorado Department of State. Lawsuit filed to challenge ruling.
  • July 18: Lawsuit against constitutionality dismissed in court.
  • July 26: George Rivera (R) files signatures to face Giron.
  • August 15: Court extends candidate filing until August 26. Mail-in ballots ruled out.
  • August 28: Court rules voters do not need to vote on the recall before they can vote on a candidate.
  • September 10: Recall election.

See also

Suggest a link

External links


  1., "Recall efforts underway for lawmakers supporting gun control legislation," May 12, 2013
  2., "A Voter Revolt," June 11, 2013
  3., "GOP Candidate George Rivera Qualifies For Pueblo Recall Race," July 30, 2013
  4., "Colorado Recalls Fire Up Gun Debate," August 6, 2013
  5., "Leadership battle underway in Colorado Senate after recall election," October 2, 2013
  6. Colorado Independent, "March 17, 2014
  7. CBS Denver, "Colorado Recall Election Changes Being Finalized," April 17, 2014
  8., "2013 Recall Election Results - Unofficial Results," accessed September 10, 2013
  9., "Official Ballot for Pueblo County, Colorado State Senate District 3 Recall Election - Tuesday, September 10, 2013," accessed August 29, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  11. 11.0 11.1, "In Sen. Angela Giron recall, organizers say they’ll submit more than 13,500 signatures," June 10, 2013
  12., "Chieftain Newsroom Execs Sign Giron Recall Petitions, Blasted for ‘Ethics Conflict’," July 30, 2013
  13., "Hickenlooper: Colorado recalls are attempts to ‘intimidate and punish’," August 29, 2013
  14., "Political gunfire erupts in both recall campaigns," August 26, 2013
  15., "New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NRA join the Colorado recall fray," August 28, 2013
  16., "Recall elections are on!," July 18, 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3, "This Local Election Could Determine the Future of Gun Control - Why Michael Bloomberg has gone all-in on a Colorado race," August 28, 2013
  18. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named gunfire
  19., "Colorado Voters Oppose Recall Effort By Wide Margin, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Marijuana Bill Won't Bring Rocky Mountain High," August 22, 2013
  20., "In Sen. Angela Giron recall, organizers say they’ll submit more than 13,500 signatures," June 10, 2013
  21., "Angela Giron recall effort moves forward with signatures certified," June 24, 2013
  22., "Recall elections are on!," July 18, 2013
  23. Associated Press, "Colorado recall candidates get more time to challenge gun-control supporters," August 12, 2013
  24. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named pc
  25. The Pueblo Chieftain, "Trump card," August 15, 2013
  26. The Pueblo Chieftain, "Ortiz asks high court to restore mail-ballot recall election," August 14-15, 2013
  27., "Colorado Supreme Court expected to rule Tuesday on recall question," August 27, 2013
  28., "Colorado Supreme Court clarifies rules for Sept. 10 recall elections," August 28, 2013
  29. 29.0 29.1, "Colorado recall becoming referendum on guns," August 28, 2013
  30. 30.0 30.1, "Recall campaign money trickles in, some can't be traced," August 28, 2013