In a radio interview Friday, Republican Senate candidate George Rivera said he couldn’t really criticize Sen. Angela Giron for “voting her conscience” when she supported the hot-button gun-control laws last spring that have spurred constituents in her Pueblo district to attempt to recall her from office.
The hosts of “Shooter Ready Radio” said the phrase — “I voted my conscience” — which Giron reportedly used to explain her votes, struck them as something someone says when they’re “being stubborn and out of touch.”
“But you can’t really go where the polls go, like Bill Clinton,” Rivera said, conceding that Giron likely genuinely felt she was doing the right thing in supporting the new gun laws. “It’s a lose-lose. I think you have to follow your conscience.”
“Listen, if I get up there [in Denver] and I don’t listen to my constituents, then recall me too,” said Rivera, a longtime Pueblo police officer who rose through the ranks to retire as Deputy Chief.
The package of state gun laws at the center of the recall passed in the wake of the Aurora theater and Newtown school mass shootings last year.
Polls have shown that the laws — proposals that placed priority on firming up gun-purchase background checks and banning ammunition magazines of more than 15 rounds — enjoyed majority support around the state. But a solid bloc of hardline gun-rights supporters were enraged by the proposals, and larger circles of conservative voters were energized by the efforts of Republican lawmakers, conservative media and the gun lobby as debate over the laws progressed.
That energy spread fast in this western gun-sport state and, as the push to pass federal gun-control laws faltered, Colorado became Ground Zero in the post-shootings battle over gun policy. In the end, the Democratic majority, which in the state Senate included Giron and chamber President John Morse, who also faces recall, rallied as a bloc to pass the laws.
“You know, a lot of politicians figure, once they’re in office, they can do what they want,” Rivera told the hosts. “They say it was a minority of gun nuts behind the recall. Maybe it started with a minority of gun nuts, if that’s what you want to call it, but [In Pueblo] 13,000 people signed the petition. That’s not a [small] minority.”
Colorado senate districts average populations of 123,000.
In recent days, Rivera has been the target of a mailer campaign that decries his strict anti-abortion stance as out-of-touch, warning that he would act with other hardline social conservatives at the capitol to restrict reproductive rights and women’s health care choices.
“I make no apologies for my belief in the sanctity of life,” Rivera wrote to his Twitter followers. He decried his opponents for trying to distract voters. “Stay on the issues,” he wrote.
On the radio Friday, Rivera conceded he had no experience in government and policy making. He said he would be guided by his personal political philosophy.
“I don’t know what goes on in the legislature,” he said. “I know you can’t do things right away… I know you have to move up through promotion.
“I’m not gonna change the world,” he said. “I’m going to follow a philosophy of common sense. Is it good for people? Is it constitutional, small government? That’s the philosophy I go with,” he said.