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DENVER — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is popping off about Colorado in a new Rolling Stone interview and Republicans here, who have been blasting Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for taking cues from Bloomberg on the state’s new gun laws, couldn’t be happier about it.

Asked about three Colorado Democrats being forced out of office by a recall movement that arose last summer after the legislature’s passage of laws expanding background checks and banning magazines of more than 15 rounds, legislation Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns lobbied hard for, the former mayor said this:

“The NRA went after two or three state Senators in a part of Colorado where I don’t think there’s roads. It’s as far rural as you can get. And, yes, they lost recall elections. I’m sorry for that. We tried to help ’em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced. You can get depressed about the progress, but on the other hand, you’re saving a lot of lives.”

The successful recalls last September occurred in Colorado Springs, the state’s second largest city, and Pueblo, its seventh largest.

The gun laws did trigger a secession movement by 11 rural northeastern Colorado counties as well, something Bloomberg may have conflated with the recall efforts.

But for Colorado Republicans eager for any chance to remind voters of Bloomberg’s influence on their Democratic governor , the comments are an election year gift.

“Just for the record, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Jefferson County all have roads. I just traveled them,” said Bob Beauprez, Hickenlooper’s GOP challenger. “Michael Bloomberg’s infuriatingly ignorant remarks show how far removed he is from Colorado, and how wrong John Hickenlooper was to let Bloomberg force his radical agenda on Colorado.

“It’s pathetic a New York City Mayor had more influence in our governor’s office than our state’s sheriffs.”

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call added: “This is what one of Sen. Udall and Gov. Hickenlooper’s top supporters thinks of Colorado.

“It’s astonishing that Gov. Hickenlooper would discuss important legislation with Mayor Bloomberg, who obviously doesn’t respect or understand the people of our great state, but refused to speak to Colorado sheriffs.  No wonder the governor lied to our state’s sheriffs, instead of admitting that he spoke to Mayor Bloomberg on multiple occasions.”

Hickenlooper himself reawakened last year’s gun debate in June when he told a group of Colorado sheriffs, most of which tried to sue him to overturn the gun laws (the suit was recently dismissed but is being appealed), that he hadn’t spoken with Bloomberg and that he agreed with them that the magazine ban is difficult to enforce and that the legislative process to pass it was too divisive.

Hickenlooper, who also told the sheriffs he was forced to sign that bill because a staffer promised he would, later told FOX31 Denver that his staff was following his orders and that he would sign the magazine ban into law again.

Republicans are also trying to link Udall to Bloomberg. Udall, who also faces reelection this fall, voted in favor of the Manchin-Toomey amendment last year that would have expanded gun background checks nationally, which couldn’t get the 60 Senate votes necessary to break a filibuster.

It’s tougher to to draw a straight line from Bloomberg to Udall, but Republican Cory Gardner’s campaign argues that Udall is already benefiting from Senate Majority PAC, which Bloomberg has contributed to, and possibly taken personal contributions from Bloomberg himself.

“Not since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attacked Colorado’s way of life has an east coaster gotten us so wrong,” said Udall spokesman James Owens. “Christie and Bloomberg should stick to what they know best: traffic jams and tiny sodas.

“Mayor Bloomberg is way off base about Pueblo and Colorado Springs, two of Colorado’s strongest and proudest communities.”

Later Thursday, Hickenlooper’s campaign also responded to Bloomberg’s remarks.

“Colorado Springs and Pueblo are making us all proud right now and both have the economic momentum that brought their unemployment rate down by more than a third since John took office,” said Eddie Stern, Hickenlooper for Colorado spokesman.

“They’re incredible communities and John was in Colorado Springs yesterday with veterans promoting economic development and was in Pueblo recently signing a bill to improve train service and economic activity in the area.”