When state Sen. Evie Hudak threw in the towel and resigned her seat in the Colorado Senate rather than wait to see if enough signatures would be gathered to force a recall election against her, some recall proponents suggested she had cheated them out of an election. If their efforts were truly directed at removing her from office, shouldn’t they have been declaring victory?
After the Colorado General Assembly passed a package of gun-control bills earlier this year, recall petitions were started against four Democratic legislators, Rep. Mike McLachlan of Durango and Sens. John Morse of Colorado Springs, Angela Giron of Pueblo and Hudak, of Westminster. The efforts against McLachlan and Hudak were quickly abandoned. Morse and Giron were successfully recalled and replaced by new Republican senators, resulting in the Democratic majority in the Senate being reduced from 20-15 to 18-17.
Shortly after Morse and Giron were removed from office, the recall effort against Hudak was resurrected. A week before the signatures were due, Hudak resigned. Her replacement will be chosen by a Democratic vacancy committee, ensuring the Democrats’ 18-17 advantage will be preserved and the seat will be in play in the 2014 election instead of waiting until 2016, which would have been the case if Hudak had served her full term.
I’ve argued repeatedly in this space that recall elections shouldn’t be used simply because people disagree with how an elected official has voted. They should be reserved for cases of corruption, malfeasance or gross negligence or incompetence. The effort against Hudak was doubly flawed because the initial effort was motivated by her gun votes, but the followup effort was driven just as much by trying to overturn the will of voters statewide to elect a Senate controlled by Democrats in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Elections have consequences, as do the actions elected officials take afterward. It can definitely be argued that Democrats overreached on the 2013 gun package. The proper time to find out if they did is the 2014 elections. We can only hope we’ll see restraint from both Democrats and Republicans concerning the use of recall elections to change the balance of power moving forward.
In addition to complaining that Hudak had cheated them of an election by resigning, some recall proponents even conjectured about which other Democratic senators they could target for recall efforts to try to shift control of the Senate.
Evie Hudak didn’t cheat anyone out of an election. If the true motive of the recall effort was to remove her from office, the proponents should have been celebrating, not complaining, and should have been relieved that Jefferson County taxpayers would be spared the almost quarter-of-a-million-dollar price tag of an election had sufficient signatures been gathered. If anyone was cheated, it was the Hudak supporters who worked to elect her in 2012 and reasonably expected she’d be their senator through 2016.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.