Recalled CO State Senator Blasts Hickenlooper Taking Credit on Gun Control

Criticism lands as former CO Governor expected to drop presidential bid for senate race

John Hickenlooper / Getty Images

A former president of the Colorado Senate blasted John Hickenlooper on social media Wednesday morning, saying the former governor was taking too much credit for sweeping gun laws passed in the state in 2013.

"With reports of @Hickenlooper considering the Senate race, I felt it important to set the record straight," former senate president John Morse wrote on Facebook and Twitter. "In 2013, #COleg passed gun safety laws in spite of @Hickenlooper NOT because of him. Credit to @SenRhondaFields, @MorganLCarroll & others. #NotHick #COpolitics"

Constituents recalled Morse after gun controls passed in the state, including universal background checks and a 15-round limit on all new ammunition magazines sold.

Hickenlooper, a former two-term governor and two-term mayor of Denver, has been running a presidential campaign as a moderate among the current field of Democrats. In the second round of debates, he said "I've done the things that most of these other people are just talking about."

As part of those claims, Hickenlooper has boasted that he took on the National Rifle Association in passing gun control laws and dealing with the aftermath, which saw Morse and another state senator recalled, the first time the recall mechanism was ever successfully used on elected officials of that level in Colorado.

Another state senator resigned before the recall vote could take place, and the three losses turned the majority of the upper chamber back to Republicans.

The 2013 legislation came in response to the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that killed 12 and injured dozens more.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, however, Hickenlooper was suggesting that new gun controls did not make much sense to him.

"This person, if there were no assault weapons available, if there were no this or no that, this guy's going to find something, right?" Hickenlooper said in an interview with CNN in July of 2012, the same month the shooting happened. "He's going to know how to create a bomb. Who knows where his mind would have gone? Clearly a very intelligent individual, however twisted."

"And, you know, if it wasn't one weapon, it would have been another. I mean, he was diabolical. If you look at what he had in his apartment and what his intentions were, I mean, even now it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up."

As Morse pointed out in his Facebook post, rumors have gained traction this week that Hickenlooper is poised to drop out of the presidential race to run for the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. senator Cory Gardner.

Hickenlooper's presidential run has failed to get any real traction. His fundraising has been lackluster and polling trends would indicate he is highly unlikely to meet thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee to make the next debate.

A report from Politico last week indicated his most favorable window of opportunity to shift to the Senate race may have come earlier in the year. As other Democrats have already been campaigning for the seat and doing fundraising work, Politico noted that those candidates seem unwilling to clear the field for him now.

"Several Democrats in the state point out that while Hickenlooper remains popular, he has never faced a Democratic primary challenge, and the base of the party in the state has moved to the left since he was last on the ballot," the report said.

Some on the left took issue with Morse's claims.

Alan Franklin, political director of left-leaning ProgressNow Colorado tweeted back to Morse highlighting the former senator's own words of praise for Hickenlooper and the gun legislation in a story from January of this year.

A request for comment from the Hickenlooper campaign was not immediately returned.