By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - Following the recall of two Democratic state senators in Colorado last month over their support for gun control laws, a third faces possible ouster, an outcome that would shift control of the state Senate to Republicans.
Gun rights activists have launched a petition drive seeking to force an election to recall state Senator Evie Hudak, a Democrat who voted for five gun control measures this year.
The group "Recall Hudak Too" has until early December to turn in 18,303 valid signatures needed to put the question before voters, said campaign spokesman Michael McAlpine.
Last month voters recalled state Senate President John Morse and state Senator Angela Giron, key members of the Democratic-controlled legislature which passed several gun control measures after mass shootings last year in a suburban Denver movie theater and at a Connecticut elementary school.
In a general statement detailing their reasons for the recall effort, the group said Hudak, a former schoolteacher who represents Denver's northwest suburbs, had "blatantly disregarded her oath" of office.
"She has infringed upon our constitutional right to bear arms," the statement said, among other listed grievances.
Hudak said in a statement the petitioners were "seeking to undo the will of voters" who re-elected her last year.
"The perpetual recall of legislators that we are now seeing is an obstacle to governing the needs of Coloradans," she said.
The most controversial gun control measures passed by the state legislature were the limiting of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and requiring background checks for all private firearms sales and transfers. Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed the bills into law.
After the ouster of Morse and Giron, Democrats hold a one-vote majority in the state Senate.
Independent political pollster Floyd Ciruli said Hudak narrowly won re-election, by about 500 votes, making her vulnerable to a recall effort.
While some Republicans feel emboldened by the successful recalls and see an opportunity to seize control of one chamber of the General Assembly, establishment Republican leaders are not supporting the recall, Ciruli said.
"They worry that the tables could be turned on them down the line," he said.
Should the measure qualify for the ballot, the governor would set a date for the election, which he said could be held during the forthcoming legislative session starting in January.
"That would be a real game changer if she is recalled and the Republicans get control in the middle of the session," Ciruli said.
(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Mohammad Zargham)