For state Sen. Evie Hudak, the risk turned out to be greater than the reward.
Rather than face a recall election, the Westminster Democrat resigned from her Senate seat on Nov. 27 in a move that will prevent reeling Democrats from potentially …
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Rather than face a recall election, the Westminster Democrat resigned from her Senate seat on Nov. 27 in a move that will prevent reeling Democrats from potentially having to relinquish power of the Legislature’s upper chamber.
Hudak — who was twice elected to her Senate District 19 seat by slim margins — was being targeted for a recall, primarily over her votes on gun control legislation.
Holding on to her seat would have been a difficult task. Instead of risking flipping control to Republicans in the Senate, Hudak submitted her immediate resignation.
“Though it is difficult to step aside, I have faith that my colleagues will honor the legacy that my constituents and I have built,” she wrote in her resignation letter to the Secretary of the Senate. “I am thankful to my fellow legislators, who have been so supportive in recent weeks, standing by my side and encouraging me to keep fighting.”
Hudak is a former state Board of Education member who was elected to her Senate seat in 2008. District 19 includes the cities of Arvada an Westminster.
She becomes the third Democratic lawmaker to either resign or be voted out of office as a result of a recall effort, joining Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, who lost their recent recall races.
Hudak’s resignation came just days before a Dec. 3 deadline for recall organizers to submit more than 18,900 recall petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Though organizers behind “Recall Hudak Too” had many complaints about Hudak, they primarily railed against her votes for key Democrat-sponsored gun bills that were signed into law this year
Hudak voted for bills that put in place universal background checks on gun sales in Colorado and limited the amount of rounds that a high-capacity ammunition magazine can hold.
She also sponsored Senate Bill 197, which makes it more difficult for domestic violence offenders to possess guns.
It wasn’t just Hudak’s votes that drew the ire of conservatives. She also came under fire for her comments to a rape victim that came during a committee hearing on a separate bill that would have banned concealed handguns on college campuses.
The woman, who was testifying, said that had she been able to carry a gun on campus, she may not have been raped. Hudak responded in part that “statistics are not on your side, even if you had a gun.”
With Morse’s and Giron’s recent ousters, Democrats were left clinging to a one-seat advantage in the Senate. They’ll now be able to hold on to Hudak’s seat, after a special vacancy committee convenes to select her successor.
“By resigning, I am protecting these important new laws for the good of Colorado and ensuring that we can continue looking forward,” Hudak said.
Hudak also said that she wanted to spare the $200,000 cost of a potential recall election that would have been paid by Jeffco taxpayers.
Hudak had been struggling with this decision for quite some time. She said in a recent interview with Colorado Community Media that “people will be angry if I were to resign” and that “people would be angry if I were to be recalled.”
Chris Kennedy, Hudak’s campaign manager, acknowledged that the decision was “something she had been bouncing around for a long time” and one that was made “over the last couple of days.”
“It’s been difficult,” he said. “She’s a senator. It’s what she does. It’s her identity. It’s what she stands for. She’s at peace, but that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult.”
Conservatives crowed over Hudak’s resignation.
“Coloradans are sick of the extreme Democrats trying to control their lives,” said Kelly Maher of Compass Colorado. “These ‘progressives’ have overreached so far on so many issues that Colorado families are now ready for a new vision.”
Conservatives also took to Twitter after news of Hudak’s resignation surfaced. Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, tweeted “another #gungrab radical fails.” And a tweet from Colorado Peak Politics, a conservative blog, read, “GOOD RIDDANCE, EVIE.”
Vacancy committee to select replacement
Now, attention turns to finding Hudak’s successor. A Senate District 19 vacancy committee will meet in the coming weeks to select Hudak’s replacement.
Two names have surfaced as possible successors: Former state. Rep. Sara Gagliardi and Arvada Councilwoman Rachel Zenzinger, both of whom are Democrats.
Zenzinger announced her candidacy through a Nov. 29 news release.
“I am not pleased with the conditions that caused Evie to resign, but I am happy to make myself available in the efforts to regroup,” she said. “And I look forward to any contribution I can make in the next legislative session.”
Zenzinger’s statement includes an endorsement from Democratic state Sen. Mary Hodge of Brighton.
Gagliardi served in the House from 2006 to 2010, when she was defeated by current District 27 Rep. Libby Szabo.
Gagliardi has been endorsed by Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, who also considered vying for Hudak’s seat, but decided against it.
During recent interviews, Zenzinger and Kraft-Tharp praised Hudak’s Senate record.
“I think Evie’s name is synonymous with kids and education,” Zenzinger said. “And coming up from the state Board of Education, obviously she has is a real commitment for that, that she carried over to the Legislature, which is a phenomenal focus on kids and schools.”
“Evie has been a hard-working policy maker,” Kraft-Tharp said. “I think the majority of the district knows she’s been working hard for us.”
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