Republicans, Democrats welcome Rachel Zenzinger to state senate
DENVER — In the final official session of the state senate of a year that was as bitterly partisan and divisive as any in recent memory, Democrats and Republicans joined together in welcoming their newest colleague, Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, Friday morning.
Zenzinger, D-Arvada, who was appointed by a vacancy committee Tuesday night to replace Sen. Evie Hudak in Senate District 19, took the official oath of office on the senate floor from Michael Bender, the former Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.
Zenzinger, 38, called the moment “the culmination of a lifelong dream.”
She and other lawmakers also took the moment to recognize Hudak, who resigned on Nov. 27 to avoid a potential recall election and to preserve the Democrats’ one-seat Senate majority.
Sen. Bill Cadman, the Republican leader, even began his remarks by thanking Hudak for her contributions to the state.
“We thank you for your service,” Cadman said. “And we will miss you.”
Democrats also lamented the circumstances that brought about Zenzinger’s appointment, but praised her as a solutions-oriented leader in welcoming her to the chamber.
“Sen. Zenzinger brings significant talent to the Colorado Senate,” said Senate President-Elect Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. “While the circumstances that brought us here were disappointing, I am proud of the way our Senate Democratic team has pulled together. We are stronger than ever, and ready to welcome Sen. Zenzinger and build a stronger Colorado.”
Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, was one of the few Senate Democrats to endorse a candidate for the vacancy, touting Zenzinger, who served as her aide after the death of her son a few years ago.
On Friday, Hodge went to the well, said a quick “welcome” and embraced Zenzinger in a long hug.
Zenzinger, whose husband and two young daughters attended the ceremony, told reporters about her passion for education.
She was born in Montrose on Colorado’s Western Slope and was elected to a second term on the Arvada City Council last November. She ran unopposed and simultaneously managed Hudak’s tough 2012 reelection campaign.