State Senator Evie Hudak, a Democrat from a suburban swing district north of Denver, resigned from office Wednesday just days ahead of the deadline on which activists were planning to hand in signatures in support of a special election to recall her from office.
Hudak apparently wasn’t up for the fight. Her resignation means Democrats will appoint her successor and retain their one-seat majority in the state’s upper legislative chamber. Her successor will have to run for reelection next year, the same year Hudak was up for reelection, if he or she is to remain in office.
Gun-rights activists and Republicans generally are celebrating the news as a victory. She is the the third Democratic officeholder in the state to lose a seat in the aftermath of the spring’s deeply contentious legislative session, where a suite of gun-control laws were passed that drew rancorous reactions from state and national gun groups as well as anxious support from state and national gun-control groups used to being defeated.
State Senate President John Morse from Colorado Springs and Senator Angela Giron from Pueblo were defeated in recall elections this summer.
But Democrats still control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s seat.
“Coloradans expect pragmatism and cooperation, yet recalls have created a divisive and toxic environment in our state,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio in a release. “Sen. Hudak’s selfless decision to resign will help ensure that Colorado’s legislature doesn’t go the path of Washington, where in the name of politics, Tea Party Republicans have stopped working for the American people.”
Hudak was an outspoken supporter of the gun laws. She made news during the height of the debate for clumsily telling a witness testifying in opposition to the bills — a woman who wanted to be able to legally carry a gun in defense against would-be attackers — that evidence suggests victims are often less safe carrying a gun, that they are likely to lose the gun to their assailants. Offended critics blasted Hudak as presumptuous and condescending and accused her of holding a narrow view of women’s choices and rights.
Hudak was a strong advocate at the capitol for women, however. She sponsored bills aimed at protecting women prisoners from abuse, for example, and at barring convicted domestic abusers from buying guns.
The gun laws she supported have always enjoyed significant support among state voters, despite the heated opposition they sparked and continue to spark among gun-rights activists. Recent polling suggests that, although majorities of Coloradans are wary of supporting blanket “gun control,” they support the two most controversial of the laws passed when asked about them specifically — one requiring universal background checks for gun purchases and one that outlaws the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
The laws came in reaction to the random massacres that took place in Connecticut and Colorado last year.