The resignation last week of state Sen. Evie Hudak, a Westminster Democrat facing a possible recall election, was primarily aimed at protecting the Democratic majority in the Senate.
As such, it was hardly an example of high-minded political action. But it is an inevitable consequence of using recall elections as a political tool.
By resigning before facing a recall election, Hudak avoids having to confront angry voters over her support of controversial gun laws. She won’t face the same fate as former Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, both of whom were recalled in September largely due to their votes for the new gun laws.
Also by resigning now, Hudak allows the Democratic leaders in her Senate district to select a replacement and thereby preserve Democrats’ one-vote majority in the state Senate going into next year.
It is political maneuvering at its Machiavellian best — cynical, dismissive of the public and partisan in the extreme.
Expect more of the same if Colorado continues down the pathway of using recall elections to overturn regular elections for political reasons.
The Daily Sentinel has long argued that recall is a tool of last resort which voters should use only when there is evidence that an elected official either has been severely negligent in his or her duties or that the individual has committed some sort of malfeasance while in office.
Recall should not be used simply to remove people from office because voters disagree with their political views.
Our view of recall is politically neutral. We had no particular desire to see Hudak, Morse or Giron remain in office. We objected just as much when Democrats in Wisconsin attempted to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker entirely because they disagreed with Walker’s political efforts.
We also opposed an attempted rezoning of Brady Trucking’s property along the Colorado River last spring because that vote essentially was an attempt to recall a zoning decision made legally by a previous City Council.
These sorts of attempts to use recall as a political bludgeon against those with different viewpoints undermine our representative form of government and move us ever-closer to something like a European parliamentary system, where political control can shift with the passion of the moment.
Those who pushed for the recalls of Morse and Giron, and were working toward recalling Hudak, decided recall was their best option as they seek to overturn gun laws they oppose.
They were unwilling to wait until next year’s general election when, if the anger toward Democrats for passing those laws is as strong as many believe, pro-gun Republicans could be elected to office.
As a result, we now see maneuvering such as Hudak’s, no doubt with the full backing of Democratic Party leaders. And there are rumors Democrats may be gearing up for recall efforts against some Republicans.
The reverberations from Colorado’s turn to recall as a form of political punishment may prove to be much different than those who initiated the recall efforts first imagined.