What to Watch for Tonight

There are a lot of races to be decided today, which makes for a lot of distinct and different story lines to follow. Here’s a few of those story lines to watch for after the polls close at 7:00…Early Returns Key in CD7

The biggest congressional race in the country is in CD7, which includes Jefferson and Adams County, as well as most of the city of Aurora. The three-way Democratic primary to decide who gets to face Republican Rick O’Donnell in November will come down to two candidates: Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm. Late polling numbers have Perlmutter ahead, but Lamm can win if she gets enough support from the absentee voters who have already cast their ballots.

The first reported numbers tonight will primarily represent absentee and early voters, and if Lamm doesn’t have a good-sized lead in those early returns, it’s time to get on the Perlmutter bandwagon.

How Few Votes Does it Take to Make It?

A whopping six Republicans are running for congress in CD5 (Colorado Springs) in an effort to take over for 20-year Republican Rep. Joel Hefley, who is retiring. Why so many candidates? Because this is a solidly-Republican seat based on voter registration numbers, and the primary winner is the odds-on favorite to not only win in November but to essentially remain a congressman for life.

Six candidates also means that the winner could be elected to congress with the support of only a few thousand voters. It’s hard to say how many votes will be needed to win, since there hasn’t been a contested primary here in decades, but if we use CD7 as an example we know that somewhere between 22,000 and 25,000 total votes will be cast. If 25,000 votes are cast in CD5, the winner could only end up needing about 6,000 votes. That’s not exactly how the House of Representatives was supposed to work, but it may be what happens.

Today is the Real Election Day for Some

For several candidates running in primaries today…this is it. Some races are basically decided in a primary because the other party won’t put up strong opposition in November, so the primary is the election. This is the case in senate district 32 (Southwest Denver), where Chris Romer, Jennifer Mello and Fran Coleman are running in a Democratic primary to replace retiring Sen. Dan Grossman. Whoever wins this primary will easily win again in November, so today is the only election that counts.

How Do You Like Your Republican? Medium or Right-Wing?

There are several hotly-contested Republican primaries around the state, many of which pit a moderate Republican against a right-winger. The Colorado Republican Party has fractured along these lines as a whole, and the results of some of these primaries will tell us which side is winning. The results today will also make a big difference in some races in November, because Democrats will have an easier time defeating right-wing candidates than moderates.

A good example of both situations is in senate district 22 (Lakewood), where a three-way Republican primary really boils down to two candidates: Kiki Traylor and Mike Kopp. Traylor is the incumbent, having been appointed in January to fill a vacancy, and she is known as being a very moderate Republican. Kopp, on the other hand, is as right-wing as they come, and supporters of his have been ruthlessly attacking Traylor for not being a “real Republican.” If Kopp wins, the strength of the right-wing side of the Republican fence will prove its strength…and Democrat Paula Noonan will have a much better chance of stealing this seat in three months.

Will Rising Stars Fall Too Early?

Both parties have a few rising stars

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