Colo. GOP will pick replacement for Dem expelled over sexual harassment

Colo. GOP will pick replacement for Dem expelled over sexual harassment

Colorado Republicans will choose a new state representative to replace a Democrat who was expelled over serial sexual harassment claims last week.

Legislators on Friday voted overwhelmingly, after several emotionally charged speeches on the floor, to oust state Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Democrat who represented a district north and east of Denver, after five women came forward to accuse him of a pattern of sexual harassment.

But in the hours leading up to the vote to expel him, Lebsock formally switched his party registration from Democrat to Republican.

Lynn Bartels, a spokeswoman for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R), said on Twitter that Lebsock had formally switched his party registration at 3:17 p.m. last Friday, minutes before the state House expelled him.

That measure of last-minute revenge gave Republicans the chance to fill the vacancy left by Lebsock’s explosion.


In a statement Friday, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays said a vacancy committee would meet later this month to pick Lebsock’s replacement.

“Statute clearly assigns our vacancy committee the authority and responsibility to fill this seat. After careful consideration, we concluded it would be dereliction of duty to punt the appointment to Gov. John Hickenlooper. We owe it to the people of House District 34 to give them the experience of ethical representation, which the Democrats, when they controlled the seat, signally failed to provide,” Hays said.

Hays accused Democrats of covering up Lebsock’s behavior before the 2016 election.

Democrats have said they will consider challenging the GOP’s replacement in court. Even if Republicans succeed in replacing Lebsock, Democrats would maintain control of the state House, where they hold 36 of 65 seats.

A spokesman for the state Democratic Party was not immediately available to comment.

Whichever Republican replaces Lebsock will have a difficult time holding the seat in November. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans invest nearly 0,000 in red Arizona district Al Franken: Sessions firing McCabe ‘is hypocrisy at its worst’ Papadopoulos encouraged by Trump campaign staffer to make contact with Russians: report MORE won the district in 2016 by a 50 percent to 40 percent margin over President TrumpDonald John TrumpScarborough mocks 'Deflection Don' over transgender troop ban Pelosi condemns Trump's 'cowardly, disgusting' ban on transgender troops Trump moves to ban most transgender people from serving in military MORE.