16 March 2009

HD 3 Vacancy Coming Soon

There will be a vacancy in Colorado State House District 3, which includes West Washington Park, effective March 27, 2009. My professional colleague, Anne McGihon, announced her resignation officially today.

A vacancy committee comprised primarily of Democratic party precinct committee people and Democratic party member elected officials who reside in Denver's House District 3 will fill the vacancy at a meeting convened for the purpose. This isn't the default rule of Colorado law in multi-county districts like House District 3 which straddles the Denver-Arapahoe County line, but is a long standing tradition readopted every two years at Democratic party reorganization meetings by the smaller statutorily designated group that adopts a vacancy committee membership resolution. The group of people who serve on the vacancy committee generally heavily overlaps with the people within the Democratic party who nominate candidates during the caucus process in Colorado for general elections.

A call to that meeting will go out shortly, and it will be held very close in time to the effective day of the resignation. The vacancy committee meeting must be held no sooner than ten days after the call for the meeting and may be held prior to the effective date of the vacancy in this case. Customarily, a vacancy committee meets only once in a single session.

The 2009 legislative session will have a little more than one month left when a replacement is appointed and sworn in, and the last month of the legislative session deals mostly with the state budget - other legislation is front loaded. The person selected at the vacancy committee meeting will serve through December 2010 (and the first few days of January before the legislative session starts in 2011), with the person elected in the November 2010 general election serving in the 2011 session of the legislature. Redistricting based on the 2010 census will take effect in the 2012 general election, for the 2013-2014 legislative sessions, a process that will be controlled by Democrats unless Republicans make major progress in the 2010 state general election.

House District 3 is a safe Democratic party seat, and has grown more safe due to improved Democratic party performance during Anne's tenure, but is not entirely safe. It includes of many Denver's Southeastern neighborhoods, Englewood (a working class to middle class first ring suburb of Denver) and Cherry Hills (a first ring suburb comprised almost entirely of high end gated communities).

Anne McGihon was first appointed to the Colorado General Assembly by a vacancy committee (which I attended before we were professional colleagues, I actually nominated another candidate at that meeting). She is term limited, so she would not have been permitted by the Colorado Constitution to run in 2010. Multiple people informally expressed interest in running in 2010, and it is not yet clear who will announce for the short vacancy committee race.

I have known that this would happen for a little while, of course, but it hasn't been my story to tell, so I haven't posted on it until the official announcement came today.

The partisan vacancy committee system is one of the genius elements of the Colorado Constitution because it disentangles the personal lives of legislators in the Colorado General Assembly from the critical question of the partisan legislative balance in the state which is left to voters. In Congress, in contrast, the politics of personal destruction are a major source of partisan turnover in legislative seats, and vacancies can leave seats open for months.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your remarks. I am curious who the interested parties are? Political insiders, newcomers to the elected party process, etc.?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Owen Perkins, DPOD Secretary, has named six. The list isn't complete.