Colorado Republicans Just Picked Up A House Seat In The Most Unusual Way

On Friday, the Colorado House of Representatives expelled Democratic state Rep. Steve Lebsock following allegations by multiple women of sexual harassment. Lebsock repaid those in his party voting against him by switching his party at the last minute, a move that should give Republicans an extra seat in the House.

During the vote, Democratic Rep. Alec Garnett (Denver) and Democratic Rep. Matt Gray (Broomfield) told the House chamber that they had been wearing bulletproof vests to work for weeks because they were worried Lebsock would act violently toward them in retaliation.

Lebsock's last-minute move gives Republicans the opportunity to replace him, handing them another seat. In the event of a vacancy, the Colorado Constitution explains, "The person appointed to fill the vacancy shall be a member of the same political party, if any, as the person whose termination of membership in the general assembly created the vacancy." Fox 31 Denver reports:

At the last minute, Lebsock changed his party affiliation to Republican before the quick vote toppled the effort.

Colorado law says a vacancy will be filled by a person in the same political party. That means Lebsock’s party change gives his seat to Republicans, despite the fact he was a Democrat until Friday. ...

... This is the text from the Colorado Constitution, Article 5, Section 2(3): Any vacancy occurring in either house by death, resignation, or otherwise shall be filled in the manner prescribed by law. The person appointed to fill the vacancy shall be a member of the same political party, if any, as the person whose termination of membership in the general assembly created the vacancy.

Following the vote, Lebsock tweeted: "I changed party affiliation at 3:02pm. As I walked down to speak for the last time, approx. 4pm, I handed the minority leader a document with affiliation change. Nothing was planned. He did not know about party change before."

The Colorado Democratic Party issued a statement saying, “As far as Lebsock goes, the Republicans can have him. 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.”

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