Denver Business Journal
Mark Harden

Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada City Council member, has been named to fill the Colorado state Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of Evie Hudak.

The choice was made late Tuesday by a committee of Democrats based in Hudak’s Senate District 19, which includes much of Westminster and Arvada.

Zenzinger, 38, will hold the seat until an election is held in November 2014. She is to be sworn in Friday.

She ran Hudak’s 2012 campaign for the Senate seat, which Hudak won narrowly.

“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 said.

Hudak resigned in November as the senator representing the district amid a recall campaign over her support for gun restrictions that passed early this year.

That move ensured that Democrats would hang onto the seat at least for another year. Had Hudak been recalled and a Republican elected to replace her, Democrats would have lost their one-vote Senate majority. Instead, with a Democrat resigning the District 19 seat, Democrats were allowed to pick a successor under state election law.

The district is closely split among Democrat, Republican and independent voters.

In September, two other state senators who had backed gun-control measures — then-Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, both Democrats — lost recall elections, and Republicans were elected to the seats they had held.

Zenzinger was picked over former state Rep. Sara Gagliardi, who issued a statement saying she was “disappointed” at not being selected by the committee but has “confidence in tonight’s choice.”

A committee of 66 Democrats chose Zenzinger over Gagliardi by 39 to 27, KDVR-Fox31 reports.

Compass Colorado, a conservative group that helped to lead the Hudak recall effort, blasted the pick.

“Sen. Hudak’s constituents were hungry for change and liberal activists served up more of the same,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “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.”