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Colorado Dems replace state senator with her former campaign manager

A Colorado Democratic vacancy committee voted to replace a state senator who was facing a tough recall election with what opponents call a carbon copy of the outgoing lawmaker.

Evie Hudak, the third Colorado Democratic state senator to face a recall election over her support of new gun control laws, resigned in late November rather than risk a special election that would have tipped the balance of power in favor of Republicans were she to lose.

By stepping down, she allowed a vacancy committee to choose her replacement — and the committee chose her former campaign manager, Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada city councilwoman.

“I am eager to get to work on the tough issues facing our state, including economic development, job creation, education, transportation and health care,” Zenzinger is quoted as saying in the Denver Business Journal. She will be sworn in on Friday.

But conservatives, who predict Zenzinger will simply continue to espouse the same priorities as Hudak, panned her appointment.

“Sen. Hudak’s constituents were hungry for change and liberal activists served up more of the same,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of the conservative Compass Colorado, in a statement. “Zenzinger may have a different name, but she’s been behind Hudak’s policies. Anyone who thinks Zenzinger is going to stand up to her own Democrat majority is fooling themselves.”

Some of the bills Zenzinger will sponsor “were on Hudak’s to-do list,” Denver’s Fox31 reported. She told the Denver Post she supports the gun laws that have so far seen three three Democratic senate seats turn over and said she wants to work on education policy.

Hudak drew fire from opponents not only for supporting new laws that limit the size of ammunition magazines and require universal background checks, but also for her insensitive comments to a rape survivor during a committee meeting.

Gun rights advocates successfully ousted the former Senate president, John Morse, and former Sen. Angela Giron at a special election in September, replacing them with Republicans and slimming the Democratic majority to just one seat.

Rather than risk losing her own special election and handing the majority to Republicans, Hudak resigned on Nov. 27, writing in her letter of resignation, “I have faith that my colleagues will honor the legacy my constituents and I have built.”

Zenzinger will serve through the upcoming 2014 session, but must run for election next November to retain the seat.

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