Democratic state Sen. Evie Hudak of Colorado resigned Wednesday, preventing a recall effort that threatened to give Republicans majority power in the senate.
Opponents of Hudak were nearing the end of a petition drive to send the Colorado senator to a recall election later this year. State Democrats have already lost two Senate seats in 2013 recalls, after recently passed gun control measures sparked outrage among Colorado gun-rights activists.
“By resigning I am protecting these important new laws for the good of Colorado and ensuring that we can continue looking forward,” Hudak wrote in a resignation letter to Democratic leadership.
A Democratic vacancy committee will now appoint someone to fill Hudak’s seat until 2014, forestalling the hopes of recall proponents.
“This is a cowardly way out of the recall,” political director for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Joe Neville told the Denver Post. “We’re still charging toward Tuesday and no matter what we’ll submit the petition signatures.”
Hudak was part of a Democratically-led effort to pass new 15-round limits on high-capacity magazines and universal background checks, legislation which Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law earlier this year.
Passage of these laws was bolstered by a national push for stricter gun laws, led by President Obama, after horrific mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and – more locally – Aurora, Colorado, shook the country.
After the votes, conservative gun rights groups targeted former state Senate president John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron for recall elections, successfully ousting the two Colorado lawmakers. Replacing Morse and Giron with Republicans brought the state Senate closer to GOP control, but Democrats still held an 18-17 majority. A defeat of Hudak would have changed that.
“I am incredibly saddened to lose such a dedicated public servant in our Senate caucus,” said Senate President-elect Morgan Carroll. “Senator Hudak is a tireless advocate for at-risk individuals, women, seniors, and for the education of Colorado’s children. She has accomplished great things for her District and the people of Colorado, and she will be greatly missed.”
Supporters of Hudak gathered by Arvada Public Library in Denver Wednesday to praise and applaud the departing pol.