Updated: November 28, 2013 at 6:46 am
Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, became the latest victim of recall elections Wednesday, resigning her seat just days before opponents were expected to turn in signatures trying to oust her from office.
By resigning, Hudak ensures that Democrats will keep their narrow one-vote majority in next legislative session. A committee from the Democratic Party will appoint a replacement to fill her position.
Hudak, first elected in 2009, was targeted by a group who opposed gun legislation she supported during the 2013 legislative session.
Had enough signatures been turned in next week - 18,304 - Hudak would have faced a recall election among voters in Senate District 19. And voters could have replaced her with a Republican.
Two Democratic senators who supported gun laws have already been removed from office by recall elections: John Morse, of Colorado Springs, and Angela Giron of Pueblo.
"In the interest of preserving progress made over the last year, I am resigning," Hudak wrote in a letter sent out Wednesday morning. "This decision has been difficult to make. I believe I have listened closely to the ideas and concerns of my constituents."
Those leading the recall effort disagree, saying Hudak ignored her constituents who didn't want stricter gun laws that they see as violating their Second Amendment rights.
"People finally are fighting back against an extreme liberal fever and it's starting to break," said Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. "Two recalls and one resignation, add to that 43 sheriffs who are suing the state over what happened in the legislature and the fact that people aren't even waiting for the next election to say enough is enough, that is significant."
Cadman, who leads the minority party in the Senate, said he is hopeful that the elections in 2014 will bring a GOP majority into the House and Senate.
The split in the Senate is 18-17, while Democrats in the House enjoy a 37-28 majority.
Hudak supported gun measures such as universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines, but she also sponsored a bill that empowered judges to remove weapons from possession of those accused of domestic violence.
Senator Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, praised Hudak for her stance in protecting women.
"Today, the people of Senate District 19, and the entire state, lost a courageous and principled leader," said Carroll, who replaced Morse as Senate president after he was removed from office. "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."
At a press conference in Arvada Wednesday, friends of Hudak spoke about the loss, but Hudak wasn't there.
The recalls of Morse and Giron were the first-ever recalls of state-level elected officials. Many feared the practice would create a year-round election cycle with recalls occurring anytime a vocal and active group was unhappy with a lawmaker.
Cadman said he doesn't want a perpetual election cycle, but added recalls are an important constitutional right.
"The plain reading of the Colorado Constitution has put this tool into the hands of the people and it's extremely powerful," Cadman said. "Seek redress of their government means that even after election day you have a responsibility to keep listening to your constituents."
Contact Megan Schrader