Colorado Senate GOP Leader Mike Kopp is stepping down just months after his wife, Kim Kopp, lost a long fight with cancer. Kopp, widely respected in the State Capitol as a solid and amiable leader, said he was leaving to focus on raising his four kids in the wake of his wife's passing.

Kopp released the following statement in announcing his resignation:

"It is with a deep sense of loss and a heavy heart that I resign my senate seat. The last five years have been among the most fulfilling for me. I have truly enjoyed serving the people of Senate District 22 and all of Colorado. However, I must now dedicate my service to my four beautiful children.

I know the future of the Senate Republicans is in good hands with their elected leadership. My departure will give the Republican caucus and the Senate the time needed to make a smooth transition and continue pressing forward for the people of Colorado." 

Kopp was elected to the state Senate in 2006, representing Senate District 22. He was the Senate Republican Caucus Chair from 2007-2010, rising to Senate Minority Leader in May 2010. 

A strong conservative, Kopp defeated an incumbent state Senator who had been appointed to the seat after Norma Anderson retired a year early. Earning the endorsement of conservative luminaries former US Senator Bill Armstrong and former state Senate President John Andrews, Kopp squeaked out a primary win 45-44. He went on to win the general and was comfortably re-elected in 2010.

With Kopp stepping down, a vacancy committee will name his replacement to the state Senate and the Senate GOP Caucus will vote before the next legislative session on a new Senate leader. 

In his resignation letter, Kopp praised the strength of his wife and the support of those around him in making his service possible:

In closing, I would like to add that nothing in my senate service would have been possible without the loving support of my late wife, Kimberly. My colleagues that knew her can attest to her miraculous strength. Ironically, I was lifted by her perhaps more than she was by me, even as she faced unfathomably difficult days. I would also extend sincere thanks to my family, the wonderful senate Republican staff and my terrific employer, Intermountain Rural Electric Association. Without them I would have been unable to fulfill my duties over these years.

God bless our great state.

Senator Kopp is a gentleman and a conservative stalwart. His decision to leave the Senate seems clearly in the best interest of his children, but that doesn’t mean conservatives should feel any remorse about losing his important voice in state government.