DENVER—Nobody will ever know if voters would have unseated Democratic state Sen. Evie Hudak, but the recallers are confident they would have put her on the ballot.
Recall Hudak Too was on pace to reach its goal of 25,000 signatures by Dec. 3 when Hudak resigned the day before Thanksgiving, according to organizers.
“It was looking like we were going to hit 25,000, and probably 21,000 or so of those would have been good,” said Joe Neville, political director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
The committee needed 18,900 valid signatures from voters in Senate District 19 to force a recall election. The original goal was 25,000 signatures, but organizers had lowered their target after a few difficult weeks of signature-gathering.
At their Sunday victory party, however, supporters brought in stacks of petitions filled with signatures, said organizer Mike McAlpine.
“There was no doubt that we had enough. No doubt,” said McAlpine. “When we saw these petitions coming in on Sunday, we were astounded.”
A few days before Hudak resigned, he said, the Recall Hudak committee made a final push by calling dozens of volunteers and asking them “to please work just one more day.”
“As hard as it was to get signatures for a while there after we had already gotten the low-hanging fruit, our volunteers stepped up and were incredible at the end, so we were still able to get good signature totals,” said Neville.
The recall used a two-pronged attack of volunteers and paid signature-gatherers. Taking advantage of a strategy developed by the Giron recall team, the volunteers used their cell phones to check the eligibility of would-be signers on the Secretary of State’s website before allowing anyone to sign the petitions.
The paid circulators didn’t double-check the signers’ registration, “and that’s where the verification rate would have been lower,” Neville said.
Hudak, whose resignation was effective Nov. 27, surfaced Monday at a meeting of the LEAD Compact Working Group, which is devising recommendations for state legislation on teacher licensing requirements.
Hudak was named to the 35-member panel as a result of her post as Senate Education Committee chair, but continues to attend the sessions as an individual, said Christine Scanlan, president and CEO of the Keystone Center, which is hosting the meetings.
“Evie is no longer in the legislature, as you know, so she is a participant in the group only as an individual,” said Scanlan in a phone message. “We have a diverse stakeholder set that is giving input into draft legislation. As she is no longer part of the legislature, she’s not being consulted with the other legislators present, nor is her opinion any different than anyone else at the table since she has a different role.”
The working group also includes administrators, teachers and foundation representatives.
Theories abound as to why Hudak resigned before the petitions were due, but polling may have had something to do with it. Public Policy Polling conducted a survey prior to the Sept. 10 recall election that showed state Sen. Angela Giron losing by 12 percentage points.
That poll wasn’t released until after the election. No Hudak polling data has been made public, and PPP did not return a call from a reporter Monday.
“I’d have to say they [Hudak advocates] saw the writing on the wall,” said Neville. “They had to have done the polling—they definitely had the money for it. If we’d have had that kind of outside money, we would have been doing polling.”
After picking off three Democratic state legislators in 2013, recallers say they have no plans for another round in 2014. Instead, they’ve trained their sights on the November election.
“We’re focused on the November 2014 elections,” Hudak recall organizer Laura Waters told KNUS-AM’s Peter Boyles. “We’ve got to keep this momentum rolling. We need Coloradans to get behind the conservative candidates and really go at the progressives in this state.”