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Two of three gun bills approved by the state legislature have been targeted by a federal lawsuit filed by 55 of the state’s 62 sheriffs, among others. On top of that, elected officials from as many as 10 rural counties are discussing whether to form a new state, North Colorado.

That movement was launched after Mr. Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 252 over the strong objections of rural lawmakers. The bill is expected to increase electricity costs by doubling the renewable-energy mandate on rural communities.

“Democrats are hugely on the defensive — they’re having to defend two recalls, a lawsuit on the gun bills, and then you have a group of eight counties talking about forming their own state,” Mr. Ciruli said. “The governor’s problem is bigger than just the death penalty. He’s also dealing with a revolt out there.”