Colorado Republicans Say They’ll Fill Lebsock’s House Seat

<p>Nathaniel Minor/CPR News</p>
<p>Rep. Steve Lebsock spoke to the House and attacked the allegations and process aimed at him. “There has been a severe lack of due process since the beginning,” he said to fellow legislators.</p>
Photo: COLEG Lebsock Expulsion 4 | Lebsock Speaks - NMinor
Rep. Steve Lebsock spoke to the House and attacked the allegations and process aimed at him. "There has been a severe lack of due process since the beginning," he said to fellow legislators.

Lebsock was a Democrat until about an hour before House members voted 52-9 to expel him. Five women, including Rep. Faith Winter, have accused him of sexual harassment.

Lebsock switched his party affiliation to Republican, which gave that party the right to choose his replacement. They also could have stood aside and let Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, make the decision.

On Friday morning though, Republicans said it would be a "dereliction of duty" to punt the appointment to the governor.

"We owe it to the people of House District 24 to give them the experience of ethical representation," said a statement from state Republican Chairman Jeff Hays.

Republicans have taken issue with Democratic leaders' handling of the Lebsock affair, even introducing an amendment during the marathon debate calling for an investigation into House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver. Duran has said more than once, including during the expulsion debate, that had she known the extent of the allegations against Lebsock, she would have acted differently.

In a statement last week, Democrats said they are confident the district will be represented by a Democrat following the 2018 election. It's not clear if they will mount a legal challenge.

Even if Republicans do replace Lebsock, Democrats will still hold a sizable majority in the chamber. Democrats currently hold a 36 to 28 majority over Republicans. The GOP will convene the vacancy committee later in March.