DENVER (CBS4) – Both Democrats and Republics are now reacting to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s comments about the state’s tougher new gun laws.
Hickenlooper’s controversial statements came during a meeting with Colorado sheriffs, many of whom opposed the new laws. It could now have an impact on his re-election bid.
The governor managed to upset people on both sides of the gun issue. Democrats, including Rep. Rhonda Fields, who led the fight for the gun laws, told CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd his remarks are baffling. While Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said his indecisiveness shows a lack of leadership.
“This is how bright I am. I didn’t think it would be that controversial,” Hickenlooper told the sheriffs about the gun control issue. “I apologize. I don’t think we did a good job on any of that stuff.”
The governor told the sheriffs he didn’t have the basic facts on the bills and felt obligated to sign the high-capacity magazine ban because a staff member said he would and expressed doubt that it would even make a difference.
“This is breathtaking in its scope of a guy who cannot make a decision, and then even after he makes one, he regrets it and says he was wrong,” Republican strategist Dick Wadhams said.
Wadhams compared Hickenlooper’s waffling on the gun laws to his indefinite stay of execution in a death penalty case, saying voters will see the governor as weak.
“Colorado voters want a strong chief executive. They want a governor who can make a decision and stick with it,” Wadhams said. “He has just put this race back into play.”
“I think the most important thing is he showed up and faced the critics of the legislation that he signed in an attempt to answer their questions,” Democratic analyst and former state lawmaker Penfield Tate said.
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Tate suggests it’s not what the governor said, but what he did that voters will remember at the polls.
“At the end of the day, despite some confusion over what the governor did and didn’t do on the front end, and how he got to the decision; I think what’s most important is that in the minds of the majority of Coloradans, I think they agree with the gun control measures and legislation passed and signed by the governor.”
The governor returns from an economic development trip to Mexico Wednesday night. His spokesman declined a request for an interview with him.