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DENVER (AP) - A third Democratic Colorado state senator facing possible recall after voting for gun-control measures said Wednesday she will resign to avoid a recall election.
The resignation of Sen. Evie Hudak of Denver's western suburbs came less than a week before opponents planned to turn in petitions seeking her recall. The resignation means Democrats will appoint an interim successor, guaranteeing they'll keep a one-seat majority in the Senate next session.
Two other Democratic senators were ousted from office in September recalls, former Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and former Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo. Both were replaced by Republicans.
The recall efforts came after Colorado's Democratic Legislature and governor this year approved a slate of gun-control measures including ammunition magazine limits and expanded background checks. The limits were the first gun-control measures adopted outside the East Coast after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut that left 20 first-graders and six women dead.
Colorado's gun-control measures were seen as a national bellwether. Colorado is state where gun ownership is a treasured right, but also the site of two mass shootings that prompted Second Amendment questions. Last summer's shootings at a movie theater in Aurora and the 1999 Columbine High School shootings were never far from Colorado's gun debate, with relatives of victims of both massacres frequently appearing at the state Capitol to push for gun-control laws.
Hudak said in her resignation letter that she was quitting to preserve the gun-control package. A Democratic vacancy committee will appoint a replacement to serve until November of 2014, when an election will be held for a full term in the Jefferson County district. Democrats risked Republicans taking an 18-17 advantage in the Senate if Hudak were successfully recalled.
"By resigning, I am protecting these important new laws," Hudak wrote.
Hudak sponsored one of the new gun-control bills, a new law to restrict gun ownership by those who have committed domestic violence.
"I believe these bills will make life better for all the people of my district and for all Coloradans," she wrote.
Democrats are in solid control of the state House, meaning the gun laws would be unlikely to face repeal even if Hudak had been ousted.
Gun-rights advocates lauded Hudak's resignation as an indication Democrats are running scared after ratcheting back gun rights.
"Coloradans proved gun rights will not be trampled on without reaction," said Jonathan Lockwood, spokesman for the conservative advocacy group Compass Colorado, in a tweet shortly after Hudak's announcement.
The senator didn't appear at a thank-you ceremony put on by her supporters in suburban Arvada. Democratic allies bemoaned the resignation.
"Recalls: nasty way to do politics. So sad," tweeted Democratic Sen. Linda Newell of Littleton, whose district includes Columbine High School.
Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt
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