Democrats appoint Rachel Zenzinger to replace resigned State Senator Evie Hudak

DENVER - Democrats have named a successor for Colorado State Senator Evie Hudak, who resigned rather than face a possible recall election because of her support for new gun control measures.

The Democratic Vacancy Committee convened Tuesday evening to nominate candidates and decided to appoint Rachel Zenzinger. She is Mayor Pro Tem and Councilmember for District 1 of the Arvada City Council.

“I am proud to have Rachel Zenzinger serve as the next State Senator for District 19,” Colorado Democratic Party Chariman Rick Palacio said in a statement.

Palacio went on to call Zenzinger a "pragmatic leader who works across party lines."

Zenzinger tweeted, "I was honored tonight to learn that I will be the next State Senator of District 19 in Colorado! Thank you, thank you."

Hudak came under fire after voting 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."

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.

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

"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 of resignation sent to the Secretary of the Senate last month.

Palacio's statement said, "I'm hopeful that Colorado’s Republicans will put partisanship aside, and commit to working with Rachel Zenzinger and our Democratic majority to tackle the issues important to Colorado families and small businesses."

--Zenzinger's full statement:

"I thank the members of the vacancy committee for their investment in this difficult process to select a successor to Sen. Evie Hudak, and I look forward to justifying their faith in me. These 70-plus volunteers took considerable time out of their personal lives to analyze the situation, conduct their own research, and come out to cast their votes. That’s dedication; and I feel especially inspired to start my new job Jan. 8. Thank you to all my supporters who encouraged me during the last two weeks, and thanks especially to Sara Gagliardi for giving the vacancy committee such a strong option. She was a worthy candidate, and I hope she continues to make herself available in coming years for public service.

"I would also like to salute my colleagues on the Arvada City Council. I have two regrets about tonight’s development:  That I will not be able to work with that distinguished group anymore; and that the resignation of a good, dedicated public servant prompted the necessity of this vacancy committee meeting. Thank you, Evie Hudak, for everything you have done for Colorado. Now we have to move forward, and I am eager to get to work on the tough issues facing our state, including economic development, job creation, education, transportation and healthcare."