Republican state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, in the crosshairs of Democrats because of sexual harassment allegations, on Monday evening said he will step down from the Colorado legislature.
The lawmaker from Hot Sulphur Springs had not been placed on any committees by his party’s leadership in the Senate for the upcoming legislative session.
In a letter announcing his decision, Baumgardner said he was retiring effective Jan. 21. There are still two years left in his term.
The news was first broken by CBS4.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve the residents of both House District 57 and Senate District 8 over the last 10 years,” Baumgardner said in a letter making his decision formal. “I am humbled by the support I have received in my elections and even more so by those that have been positively affected by legislation I have worked on.”
He added: “During my time under the Gold Dome, I’ve learned many lessons, with none being as important as to always put your family first. My family’s resilience and love have given me the grace to continue forward under the most difficult of circumstances, and in light of new opportunities I must put them first in order to fulfill my obligations as a father and as a husband.”
Baumgardner was accused of grabbing and slapping the buttocks of a legislative aide during the 2016 legislative session. A third-party investigation found that the allegations were based off of incidents that were “more likely than not” to have happened.
Baumgardner denied wrongdoing. He was disciplined by Republican leaders in the Senate, though they cast doubt on the outside investigation of the allegations.
Baumgardner did not return a phone call Monday from The Colorado Sun.
Democrats attempted to oust him from the legislature during this year’s session, but didn’t have the votes.
In an interview earlier this month for The Sun’s politics newsletter, The Unaffiliated, incoming Senate President Leroy Garcia suggested that Democrats — now in control of the Senate — could revive their effort to expel Baumgardner.
“I trust that (Baumgardner and the new GOP leader) are aware of where we are,” Garcia, a Pueblo Democrat, said. “They’re going to have to make some decisions. And if they don’t make any decisions, we are going to follow through on the work that we need to do.”
A GOP vacancy committee will convene to fill Baumgardner’s seat. Carbondale Republican Rep. Bob Rankin in recent weeks has been suggested as a replacement.
By resigning after Jan. 4, when the 2019 legislative session begins, Baumgardner assured the Republican who is appointed to serve the rest of his term is eligible to serve for two more four-year Senate terms in the seat. Had he departed before the opening gavel, his replacement would have been eligible to serve only one four-year term.
Baumgardner was first elected as a state representative in 2008. He won the Senate seat representing northwest Colorado in 2012 and was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2016.
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