DENVER — Senate Democrats are set to announce Monday that Sen. Andy Kerr will replace former Sen. Evie Hudak, who resigned her seat last month to avoid a recall election and preserve her party’s one-seat majority in the chamber, as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Kerr, D-Lakewood, is a part-time social studies teacher who is facing a tough reelection bid next year.
Kerr was chosen over Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, a former teacher and principal who also sits on the committee.
Johnston will continue to serve as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, a post he’d have had to give up to head the education committee.
Johnston, who sponsored last year’s re-write of the School Finance Act and led the unsuccessful campaign this fall to pass Amendment 66, a proposed $950 million annual income tax hike to fund a new education funding model, is recognized as a passionate, tireless education advocate.
But his sponsorship of 2009’s Senate Bill 191, which tied teacher tenure and compensation more closely to student achievement, and his close ties to the education reform movement put him squarely at odds with the Colorado Education Association, the state’s biggest teachers union, and with some Democratic lawmakers, including Hudak, who adhere more closely to the union agenda.
Before Hudak’s resignation, the conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics wrote about a rumor that the lawmaker would only consider stepping down, thereby avoiding the threat of a recall and preserving Democratic control of the Senate, if Senate leadership agreed not to appoint Johnston to replace her as Senate Education chair.
That rumor has not been confirmed.
Incoming Sen.-Elect Rachel Zenzinger, who was appointed to fill Hudak’s seat by a vacancy committee Tuesday night, will also be appointed to serve on the Senate Education Committee.