Colorado State Sen. Evie Hudak (D) resigns before recall petition deadline

Opponents describe resignation as 'cowardly'

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - Colorado State Senator Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) resigned on Wednesday, effective immediately. Hudak was facing a possible recall election because of her support for new gun control measures.

"In the interest of preserving the progress made over the last year, I am resigning as State Senator for District 19," Hudak wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the Senate.

Hudak's Democratic colleagues, Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, were ousted in similar recall elections in September.

Hudak's decision drew anger from Mike McAlpine, the head of the Recall Hudak Movement.

“This woman had the arrogance to step down, and despite parroting a line about how the people of Colorado support her, knows full well that in fact that is a lie,” McAlpine said. “She has chosen to tuck tail and run away.”

McAlpine spoke to reporters after a rally by Hudak supporters.

Friends of Hudak said "She cares about Colorado's public schools, it's children and the most vulnerable in our community."

Former teacher Lorraine Bowen said, Sen. Hudak is stepping aside so that the policies she helped put in place will live on.

"I know this was an incredibly difficult decision," Bowen said. "We will all continue to stand in support of Evie Hudak."

The Senator voted to pass House Bills 1224 and 1229.  HB 1224 controversially limited the number of rounds allowed in a magazine, while 1229 expanded background checks for gun buyers.

In her resignation letter, Hudak called the work "sensible gun-safety legislation."

"I believe these bills will make life better for all the people of my district and for all Coloradans."

A group attempted to recall Hudak in April, but failed to get enough signatures to force an election. The latest recall group had 60 days to get 18,900 valid signatures. Those signatures were due next week.  Today, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners told 7NEWS they had reached the 92 percent threshold.

“We’re putting all Democrats on notice,” Joe Neville said. “John Hickenlooper, Mark Ferrandino, Morgan Carroll, and all the leadership in the Democrat party… we’re going to make sure that every gun grabber, every elected official who has taken away our rights is put on notice.  We’re going to make sure they’re held accountable.”

Hudak said she is stepping aside to save taxpayers the $200,000 cost of a special election. But the Dean of the University of Colorado, School of Public Affairs told 7NEWS, that politics played a big role.

“By her resigning, a democrat will be appointed to fill the seat,” said Prof. Paul Teske. “That allows the democrats to maintain the majority in the Senate in the spring of 2014.”

When asked whether Hudak may have been pressured, Teske replied, “I don’t know enough about the backroom politics, but there were clearly discussions that that might be advantageous to the party.”

Hudak, who did not respond to a request for an interview, initially called the recall effort "a small group seeking to undo the will of voters, who re-elected me to the Senate last November. Unable to defeat me then, they are now attempting a political power grab using a low voter turnout, no mail ballot recall election strategy. The perpetual recall of legislators that we are now seeing is an obstacle to governing and addressing the needs of Coloradans, especially those impacted by devastating floods."

Wednesday, she said it was difficult to step aside.

Hudak got national attention in March for her comments during the debate over House Bill 1226 which would ban concealed weapons on Colorado college campuses. Hudak told a testifying rape victim that even if she had a gun, her attacker might have been able to get away from her.

"Statistics are not on your side," Hudak said. "Even if you had had a gun, you said that you were a martial arts student -- I mean person -- experienced in Tae Kwon Do, and yet because this individual was so large, (he) was able to overcome you, even with your skills. And chances are that if you had had a gun then, he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you."

"Respectfully Senator, you weren't there," said victim Amanda Collins. "Had I been carrying concealed, he wouldn't have known that I had my weapon. I know without a doubt in my mind, at some point I would have been able to stop my attack by using my firearm."

Later Collins told 7NEWS, "I don't know if I felt more victimized or patronized. It was quiet. You could have heard a pin drop. I think people were flabbergasted."

Collins said Hudak did apologize afterwards.

"She apologized for upsetting me and said that she shouldn't have said that," said Collins.

Hudak also sent 7NEWS the following statement:

"I didn't mean to be insensitive towards Amanda Collins' experience. I respect the courage it took for the witnesses to share their heartbreaking stories. Amanda was reflecting on her experience and asked the committee if having a gun would have made her safer. I realize now it was a rhetorical question.

"Amid this emotional testimony, my goal was to share research data about the increased danger of having a gun in an assault. As a domestic violence victim advocate, I know that for every one woman that used a handgun to kill someone in self-defense, 83 were murdered by them. My timing was not the best for making the point. I'm glad I had the opportunity to offer Amanda a sincere apology in a private conversation."