State Watch

Colorado state Dem leader steps down to protest GOP handling of sexual misconduct charges

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Colorado Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman (D) stepped down from her leadership post Thursday in part to protest the state GOP leadership’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations. 

“Sometimes leadership means stepping back so others can step forward,” Guzman, who is term-limited, said in a statement reported by The Denver Post.

“Traditionally, those in leadership hold on to their role and title until the very end of their term, but I’m passing the torch now. I believe providing more time for new leaders to learn and grow is the best way to set up future caucuses for success. I want to give the next generation of Democrats an opportunity to lead,” she said.

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Guzman will serve the rest of her term as assistant minority leader in the chamber. Current Assistant Senate Minority Leader Leroy Garcia (D) will be promoted to replace her.

Guzman said she was frustrated in part with the chamber’s handling of allegations against state Sen. Daniel Kagan (D), in comparison to allegations against three Republican state senators, including Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R). 

Kagan on Monday was accused of using an unmarked Senate restroom that is reserved for women, but State Senate President Kevin Grantham said it occurred “habitually.” 

Baumgardner is accused of slapping and groping the backside of a legislative aide in 2016. He and the other two Republican state senators deny wrongdoing.

Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik (R) filed a complaint against Kagan, but Senate Republicans have not yet pointed to inappropriate behavior in the case, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.

“[T]here is absolutely no equivalence to Sen. Baumgardner using his position of power to repeatedly, physically harass a legislative aide. This accusation is a shameful attempt by Republicans to distract from very real incidents of sexual harassment at the Capitol,” Guzman said after the allegation against Kagan surfaced on Monday. 

Guzman added that her stepping down was about more than just sexual misconduct. 

“It’s about good leadership. Good leaders who are coming to the end of their term should make it possible [for others to step up],” she said, according to the Gazette. “Leadership isn’t just staying to the bitter end. It’s about being a symbol.” 

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