With last week’s resignation of state Senator Evie Hudak, Coloradans were spared the spectacle of a third recall election. But that won’t insulate us from another electoral circus in 2014.
Hudak stepped down rather than go through the recall process that cost Democratic senators John Morse and Angela Giron their jobs in September. If Hudak had lost a recall election, the balance of power in the state senate would have tipped from 18-17 Dems to 18-17 GOP.
In vacating her office, Hudak enables Democrats to appoint her successor, although that person will have to defend her seat in 2014. (It seems certain that the appointee will be female; last week, Coloradopols.com published a thorough analysis of Hudak’s possible replacements.)
The other certainty about the 2014 campaign is that the issue of gun control will arise again and again. By winning the two recalls and essentially intimidating Hudak into quitting, the state and national gun lobby showed how influential—and ruthless—it can be. As Megan Feldman detailed in her December 5280 article "In the Line of Fire," Hudak received numerous abhorrent phone and email threats last spring, yet insisted she would remain in office until not long before she changed her mind. (Whether said threats came from card-carrying members of gun organizations is unknown, but they were sent in response to Hudak's gun control positions, and as we all know, bullies and cowards usually prefer to remain anonymous.)
Although the pro-gun groups would have you believe Colorado voters are dead set against gun control, the polls present a far more nuanced view. According to a recent survey, state voters responded to the blanket question of whether they support Colorado’s new gun laws with a 55-40 “no” vote. On the other hand, Coloradans support universal background checks by a margin of 85-14, and they’re basically split 49-48 in favor of a statewide ban on magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. (It’s also important to note that none of Colorado’s recent gun legislation imposed any new restrictions on actual firearms.)
The moral: As we head into the next campaign season (as if we’re ever not in campaign season anymore), we hope the contests will be dignified, courteous, and full of serious, soul-searching debate. But we’re preparing for something far more crass, disingenuous, and discouraging—because why wouldn’t we?
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.