Legislative Races

At the state Capitol in Denver, lawmakers are busy writing bills and casting votes. They are also raising tens of thousands of dollars, sponsoring showbills and, sometimes, keeping quiet on hot-button issues to prevent unnecessary attention. That’s because in November, nearly half the Senate, 17 seats, and the entire House, 65 seats, will be up for reelection.

This year will test whether the so-called blue wave that earned Democrats surprise victories in Congressional special elections across the country last year will continue to roll over Colorado. Mid-term elections are also generally considered a referendum on the President’s party. Both of these factors pose a challenge for Republicans seeking to keep their one-seat majority in the Senate.

We are watching about a dozen legislative races as we head into the primaries are on June 26 and election day on November 6. We will be updating this list as the elections near. Let us know if there are any competitive races not included in this list.

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Senate District 5

Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale Lake and Pitkin

Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in this district 30.3 to 28.7 percent. Unaffiliated voter account for 39.2 percent. In 2014, Donovan won the seat by a thin margin of 2.3 percent.

Democrat

Incumbent Sen. Kerry Donovan

Republican 

Olen Lund

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Senate District 7

Mesa

Republicans have a strong hold on this seat; Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters 2 to 1. Both Sen. Ray Scott and Rep. Dan Thurlow have won by a large margin in their prior elections.

Democrat 

Chris Kennedy

Republican 

Incumbent Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction

Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction

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Senate District 16

Boulder, Denver, Gilpin and Jefferson

In 2014, Sen. Tim Neville won the race by a 2.8 percent margin over the Democratic challenger Jeanne Nicholson. Unaffiliated voters make up the majority of this district at 38.4.

Democrat 

Tammy Story

Republican

Incumbent Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton.

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Senate District 24

Adams

This district leans Democratic but is held by a Republican. Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters, 32.1 to 27.5 percent, and unaffiliated voters make up a majority of 38.6 percent. In 2014, Sen. Martinez Humenik won the seat by a 1.8 percent margin over Democratic challenger Judy Solano. This year she faces Rep. Faith Winter, who was one of the women who filed a sexual harassment complaint against fellow Democratic lawmaker Steve Lebsock. The complaints resulted in the historic ouster of Lebsock from office in early March.

In the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton won Adams County.

Republican

Incumbent Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton.

Democrat 

Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster

Independent 

Thorton Councilman Adam Matkowsky, an Independent.

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Senate District 20

Jefferson

Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who is unaffiliated, is leaving open a competitive seat. Demotic and Republican voters make up a similar share of the electorate, 30.7 to 29.8. Unaffiliated voters make up 37.8 percent.

Democrat 

Jessie Danielson

Republican

Christine Jensen

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Senate District 22

Jefferson

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Denver, is leaving open a seat in a competitive district. Unaffiliated voters make up 37.7 percent.

Democrats 

Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood

Karen Kellen

Republican

Romualdo Anthony Sanchez

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House District 9

Southeast Denver

Incumbent Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, lost his re-election bid.

At the House District 9 multicounty assembly on April 7, he came up short of the votes needed to make it to the state primary; he received 24.7 percent of the votes (30 percent is needed).

That leaves Emily Sirota, who was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, who won big in the 2016 Democratic caucus when running as a candidate for U.S. president, and Ashley Wheeland, an attorney who worked on former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s 2004 Senate campaign.

Just days after Rep. Steve Lebsock was ousted from the House of Representatives over complaints of sexual harassment, Sirota took to Twitter, saying it’s time to “clean house.” She linked to an editorial in The Denver Post that mentions an allegation against Rosenthal involving unwanted sexual advances on another man (a formal complaint was dismissed in January by House leadership because the incident occurred before he was serving as a state representative). The Denver Post reported delegates cited the allegations as one reason why the didn’t vote for Rosenthal.

Democrats make up the largest share of registered voters in this district, outnumbering Republicans 2 to 1, which is likely to push candidates to the left on issues.

Democrat

Ashley Wheeland

Emily Sirota

Republican

Angel Saunders

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House District 17

El Paso

The district has changed hands between the parties every election since 2008. This is partly due to the high percentage of unaffiliated voters, 40.2 percent. Former Rep. Catherine Roupe, who defeated Rep. Exum in 2014, is again seeking the seat after Exum took it in the 2016 election.

Democrat

Incumbent Rep. Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs

Republican

Catherine M. “Kit” Roupe

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House District 25

Jefferson

Incumbent Rep. Tim Leonard won the seat in 2016 by 3.6 percent margin. Jefferson County also voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election in 2016. The tight margin and the top ticket make Leonard’s reelection prospects uncertain.

Democrat

Challenger Lisa Cutter

Republican

Incumbent Rep. Timothy Leonard, R-Evergreen

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House District 30

Adams

A majority of the district’s voters, 38 percent, are unaffiliated.

Democrat

Incumbent Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City

Republican

Susan Lynn Kochevar

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House District 34

Adams

A majority of the district’s voters, 39.4 percent, are unaffiliated. And, in 2016, a Green Party candidate claimed more than 6 percent of the vote. Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, who was expelled from office on March 2 over allegations of sexual harassment, is not seeking reelection.

Democrat

Kyle Mullica

Jacque Phillips

Republican

Casey L. Cole

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House District 47

Fremont, Otero and Pueblo

Rep. Reyher was appointed to the position on November 27, 2017 to replace Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, R-Pueblo, who resigned to join the Trump Administration. Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters 34 to 32.6 percent in this district.

Democrat

Brianna Buentello

Republican

Incumbent Rep. Judy Reyher, R-Swink

 

 

Cover photo via https://leg.colorado.gov/