Colo. GOP makes claim on seat vacated by Dem state rep expelled over misconduct claims

Colo. GOP makes claim on seat vacated by Dem state rep expelled over misconduct claims

Colorado's Republican Party on Friday asserted the party's right to appoint a successor to Democratic state Rep. Steve Lebsock, who switched parties to become a Republican minutes before being ousted from the state legislature over sexual harassment claims.

A state party spokesman confirmed to The Hill that officials had not made a decision over whether to appoint a successor for Lebsock or let the decision be handled by the state's governor, John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.


"Our HD 34 Vacancy Committee has the right to fill the vacancy. Whether it chooses to do so is another question. If it declines to act within 30 days, the gov gets to fill the vacancy. Because Lebsock was a Dem when he committed his misdeeds, the VC could decline to fill his seat," the party tweeted.

A Colorado GOP spokesman told The Hill that if the party decides to name Lebsock's successor, a party official for Colorado House District 34 would call upon a Republican vacancy committee to fill the spot. If the party does not fill the seat, the decision heads to Hickenlooper.

Lebsock, a third-term lawmaker representing a district north and east of Denver, was expelled from the Colorado House on Friday by a vote of 54-9. Members of his own party largely voted to oust the former Democrat following accusations he sexually harassed fellow state Rep. Faith Winter (D) and four other women.

Lebsock said in a tweet that he changed his party affiliation shortly before the vote, which the secretary of State's office confirmed. Lebsock said the minority leader didn't know about the party change before it happened 

Under state law, if a member of the legislature is removed from office, their party chooses the replacement. State Democrats told 9News in Denver that they were "looking into" which party would have the right to choose Lebsock's replacement, but were confident that a Democrat would ultimately hold the seat.

"As far as @RepLebsock goes, the Republicans can have him," state Democrats said in a statement reported by 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger. "As far as the seat, we're looking into it. Either way, we're confident the district will be represented by a Democrat by the time the next session begins."

Lebsock has denied the harassment allegations, even going as far to distribute a dossier that detailed personal information about his accusers. He refused repeated calls to resign his seat before his ouster Friday.

Two other Democrats in the legislature also revealed Friday they had been wearing bulletproof vests to work out of fear of retribution over their outspoken support for Lebsock's accusers.