State Senator Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) resigned her seat Wednesday morning after facing a potential recall election next year.
Hudak is the third Democrat to lose a seat in the Senate following votes on controversial gun control bills during the legislative session.
If Hudak had lost the recall, Republicans would have regained control of the state Senate. Instead, her resignation means Democrats can appoint one of their own to fill the empty seat.
“It bothers me a lot,” Dave Palm, one of the recall organizers, said. “The Colorado constitution is what it is but it’s like finding a loophole and crawling through it.”
You’d think that recall organizers might claim a victory here, in forcing Hudak to resign, even before they had finished collecting recall signatures.
But Palm wanted an election.
“If she believes in what she’s doing, and she believes she’s representing the people then she ought to stand up and face the recall ballot,” Palm said.
Palm continued to say that the recall was never just about Hudak’s votes on gun control.
Instead, he said the recall was about everything -- from insensitive comments to a rape victim during the gun bill debates to allegations that she was on Facebook during a hearing to her votes on tax increases.
Calls to Hudak were not returned.
Senate President-elect Morgan Carroll said Hudak was not forced by the party to resign.
“She was pretty concerned about sparing her district the divisiveness and the cost of a recall election,” Carroll said. “That would have been disruptive in the middle of a legislative session.”
Carroll dismissed claims that Democrats overreached in the last session and said political losses won’t change their upcoming agenda, which will be focused on things like jobs and skyrocketing college tuition.
And she lamented the loss of Senator Hudak.
“She’s just one of the most passionate, dedicated, committed public servants I have ever worked with,” Carroll said.
Carroll is worried that the threat of recall could create D.C.-style political paralysis in Colorado with politicians on both sides of the aisle afraid to take principled stands.
That’s not the lesson Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Committee, takes from the recalls.
“Any time a party or politician forgets to listen, they deserve to get voted out,” Call said.
Call also bashed Democrats for what he called their radical agenda in the last session.
According to Call, Hudak’s resignation was cowardly and he rejected the Carroll’s assertion that the party had nothing to do with the Senator’s decision to step aside.
“Democrats decision here to force Evie Hudak to resign is nothing more than their desperate attempt to hold onto power at the expense of the people they represent,” Call said.
To political observers, the resignation comes at a curious time.
“Doing it right during this holiday I think the assumption is it will be a short story,” Floyd Ciruli, a longtime Colorado pollster, said. “But it does add one more piece to this sense that Democrats are playing some serious defense.”
Ciruli said Hudak’s resignation is embarrassing for Democrats and sets up tough election battles next November -- not just for state legislators but also for Governor John Hickenlooper, whose popularity is suffering.
“To lose three legislators in one year out of your state senate is pretty extraordinary,” Ciruli said.
It’s also unprecedented.
State Senator Morgan Carroll took over the senate presidency from John Morse, who along with Angela Giron, became the first lawmakers in state history to be recalled.
“It’s definitely been a tough year for us,” Carroll said. “We’ve ... lost three incredible public servants this year, people we were personally close to, and professionally very proud of.”
A committee will appoint a Democrat to take over Hudak’s seat before the next session starts in January 2014.