Senator resigns over gun laws
She sidesteps recall, keeps Dems' majority
Westminster Democrat Evie Hudak resigned her seat in the Colorado Senate on Wednesday rather than face a possible recall that could have given Republicans a majority in that chamber.
Although supporters of recalling Hudak hadn’t turned in any petitions, and failed in an attempt to recall her last summer, the two-term senator decided to resign rather than face the possibility.
In her resignation letter, Hudak said she did so in part to help preserve controversial gun laws approved by the Legislature earlier this year, which is what prompted her recall attempt.
“By resigning, I am protecting these important new laws for the good of Colorado, and ensuring that we can continue looking forward,” Hudak said in her resignation letter. “By resigning, I am making sure that Jefferson County taxpayers aren’t forced to pay more than $200,000 for a special election, especially after Jeffco has slashed funding for the Senior Resource Center by $400,000, for the Jefferson Center for Mental Health by $163,000, and for Family Tree by $125,000. I cannot allow these cuts to grow deeper.”
In September, Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, were recalled because of their support of two gun measures approved by the Legislature, one to limit gun magazines to 15 rounds and the other to require background checks on all gun purchases.
When those bills were being debated, the Legislature also was considering a bill to ban conceal-carry weapons on college campuses.
During testimony for that measure in a Senate committee, Hudak was highly criticized by Republicans for telling a rape victim who was testifying against the measure that she wouldn’t have been protected had she been carrying a gun.
The bill was approved by a straight party-line vote in that committee, only to be withdrawn before it could be debated by the full Senate.
Hudak’s announcement drew immediate comments from both sides of the aisle, some of which centered on the use of recalls to change the makeup of the Legislature for political reasons rather than malfeasance in office. When Morse and Giron were recalled, two Republicans were elected in their place, narrowing the Democrats’ majority to 18-17.
“Colorado’s political system has been hijacked by radical extremists who threaten recall elections for mere disagreements over legislation,” said Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Mike Cerbo, a former state representative. “Senator Hudak was attacked by these extremists for making laws, not breaking them. They tried to steal the state Senate majority in a low turnout election without mail ballots and they failed. There is a growing public backlash against these political bullies.”
But those recall supporters said it is the Democrats who are the real bullies, as evidenced by the large number of measures they got through this year’s legislative session, including the gun measures and bills that they say hurt rural Coloradans, said Rep. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, who helped gather signatures in Hudak’s recall.
“I don’t necessarily like the school-yard terminology ... but we live in a representative form of government and if (the voters) don’t like us, they ought to be able to throw us out, it’s as simple as that,” Wright said. “Being over there firsthand, I can tell you we had mom-and-pop-type volunteers, everyone from 16-year-olds wanting to get involved all the way up to anesthesiologists taking days off from work to go knock on doors in their neighborhoods and ask for signatures. It was by every stretch of the imagination a grassroots effort.”
While Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call has denounced the use of the recalls as a way of bringing political change in the Legislature, he scolded Hudak for resigning rather than facing one.
“Evie Hudak’s resignation should be a lesson to every politician: Do not ignore your constituents,” Call said in a statement. “Unfortunately, despite having two members recalled, Colorado Democrats haven’t learned this lesson. By side-stepping the recall process and not allowing voters to choose a senator who will represent them, Evie Hudak’s resignation shows Democrats are much more concerned about holding onto political power than in being held accountable.”
By law, the Democratic Party’s central committee in Hudak’s Senate District 19 has 30 days to name a replacement, who would be up for election in next year’s general election.