State Sen. Evie Hudak (D)
Ugh. Here we go again. Buoyed by their victories over two Democratic state senators in recall elections last month, Colorado Republicans are pushing ahead with a third such effort. Their latest target is state Sen. Evie Hudak, who represents the 19th District in suburban Denver, though a previous attempt to recall Hudak failed in May of this year for a lack of signatures. Hudak’s district is up during presidential years, which means it sees much greater turnout than seats elected in midterm years, like those that once belonged to former state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron. Consequently, organizers require about 19,000 signatures to move forward—far more than they needed for the earlier recalls.
But conservatives have energy on their side, and what’s more, Democrats now run the Senate with a bare 18-17 margin. A single victory will hand control over to the GOP, and that should help money flow. Indeed, Hudak’s seat is much less blue than the Giron and Morse districts. According to Daily Kos Elections’ calculations, Barack Obama only carried the 19th by a 52-45 margin, compared to the 58 to 59 percent he earned in the other two seats. That puts Hudak in the fourth-reddest district held by a Democrat in Colorado, making it a legitimate target for Republicans.
What’s more, Hudak’s own victories have both been very narrow. In her first campaign in 2008, she won by just a 51-49 spread; last year, things got even tighter, with a mere 584-vote victory that a represented a margin of less than 0.8 percent. She’s also stumbled publicly this year on the hot-button issue of guns—the very topic that drove the previous recalls—telling a rape victim who testified before a Senate committee that “statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun.” Correct or not, Hudak received a lot of grief for her remarks and later apologized.
Hudak is term-limited, and she could conceivably resign, which would annul the recall and allow Democrats to appoint a replacement. But her seat doesn’t go before voters until 2016, so Republicans could very well try to recall her successor. As we said after the earlier recalls, the bottom line here for Democrats is that they’ve evolved into a party capable of awesome voter turnout when there’s a presidential election, but one that sucks in off years. If Republicans can force a recall here, this will be a very difficult hold for Team Blue, but this is a problem that goes much deeper than just this race or this state. Off-year falloff is the biggest electoral issue that Democrats have to address going forward, and the time to do so was yesterday.
11:42 AM PT (Darth Jeff): With control of the Colorado Senate hinging on the potential Hudak recall, it’s tempting for Democrats to use the recall to go after some vulnerable Senate Republicans. Unfortunately, the targets are slim. Apart from the two GOP victors in last month’s recalls, no Republicans sit in any districts won by Obama. The Republican with the most marginal district is Scott Renfroe, whose Weld County district went for Romney 50-48. Next up is Randy Baumgardner, a candidate for US Senate and the incumbent in a Western Slope district that went red 50-47.
The short list gets even less favorable after that. David Balmer’s suburban Denver district went for Romney 51-47, and Larry Crowder’s large rural district is 52-46 Romney. All four of these districts are redder than any state House or Senate seat held by Team Blue and we would face the same challenges of off-year turnout as we faced last month and would have to deal with again in the event of a Hudak recall.