State Sen. Daniel Kagan

State Sen. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, in a 2015 photo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

State Sen. Daniel Kagan says he will resign his Arapahoe County seat effective Jan. 11.

He is the third Senate Democrat to announce plans to exit in coming weeks.

The Cherry Hills Village Democrat said it has been "a great honor to serve the people of Colorado for just short of a decade. An important obligation of leaders, I believe, is to be open to acknowledging that it's time to pass the torch to new leadership and for me, that time is now.

"I am comfortable with my decision, largely because I now that we have no shortage of individuals in Arapahoe County who would do a superb job of representing the people of Senate District 26," he added.

A native of England, Kagan is finishing up his second year in the state Senate. He was first appointed to the House in March 2009 and subsequently elected to three terms in the House and to the state Senate in 2016.

An attorney by trade, although never licensed to practice in Colorado, Kagan has served as chair of the House Judiciary Committee and as a member of Senate Judiciary in 2017 and 2018. Kagan's bills have focused largely on criminal justice issues, including civil asset forfeiture reforms in 2017 and 2018 signed into law by the governor.

Last March, Kagan was accused of using an unmarked bathroom intended for women senators and staff during the 2017 session by Republican Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton, who also filed a formal complaint. The unmarked bathroom reportedly had a unisex code but one that didn't work all the time.

Martinez Humenik did not allege Kagan did anything improper in the bathroom, which was finally marked as a women's restroom in March 2018. Kagan said it happened only once, that he used the unmarked restroom because he was new to the Senate and didn't know which restroom to use. (The men's restroom also wasn't marked).

However, an investigation found credible the allegation that Kagan used the bathroom repeatedly. That report didn't come out until September although it was completed in June.

In September, Kagan apologized for "the embarrassing mistake" and said he hoped to put the matter behind him.

Democrats termed the Martinez Humenik complaint a political stunt intended to deflect attention from two Republican state senators who were accused of improper conduct toward women.

Outside investigations on complaints against the two GOP senators found credible allegations that they had sexually harassed women at the Capitol. However, Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City called the investigations flawed and dismissed the complaints, although Sen. Randy Baumgardner resigned his chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee after the first of two reports surfaced that found credible an allegation he had slapped the buttocks of a legislative aide.

After the second report found credible allegations Baumgardner had sexually harassed a Senate nonpartisan staffer, Grantham removed Baumgardner from summer interim committees and the Capital Development Committee, which in effect kept the Hot Sulphur Springs Republican away from official business at the state Capitol for the duration of 2018.

Republicans lost control of the state Senate in the Nov. 6 election, with Martinez Humenik among the two senators who lost re-election bids. The 2019 Senate will have 19 Democrats and 16 Republicans.

A Democratic Senate District 26 vacancy committee will choose Kagan's replacement in the coming weeks, and Democratic Rep. Jeff Bridges of Greenwood Village has already expressed an intent to seek the seat.

When Kagan was appointed to his House District 3 seat in 2009, he won over 10 other candidates. History could be repeating itself: his resignation and Bridges' interest in succeeding him has already set off a flurry of interest for the House seat.

Meg Froelich, a former Greenwood Village city council member who ran against Bridges in the 2016 primary, told Colorado Politics she's interested. Four other names have also surfaced, including John Stone, who ran the campaign for Democratic Rep.-elect Kerry Tipper of Lakewood.

Kagan's resignation comes as two other Senate Democrats also have announced they will leave the state Senate before the Jan. 4 session starts.

Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville won a seat on the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners in last month's election. Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins was elected to the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners at the same time. 

Jones's resignation letter said he would step down as of Jan. 1; Kefalas' resignation goes into effect on Jan. 2. Democratic vacancy committees will also choose their replacements.

Democratic Reps. Jeni Arndt and Joann Ginal of Fort Collins are expected to compete for Kefalas' seat. Rep. Mike Foote of Lafayette intends to put his hat in for Jones' seat.

Foote did not seek re-election to his House seat in 2018; instead, he ran for Boulder County District Attorney but lost in the primary. He has already filed his candidacy to run for the Senate seat in 2020.

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