Embattled HD-33 Rep. Bill Berens (R-Broomfield) conceded defeat on Thursday and dropped a call for an expected recount in his bid to remain in the state legislature. With 99 percent of precincts counted, Democratic challenger Dianne Primavera won by 430 votes.
Berens came under criticism last month after a Colorado Confidential investigative report found that he accepted a $20,000 check from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association as a prize for winning a hole-in-one at the lobbyist group’s annual golf outing. The story — and Berens’ subsequent angry reaction including threatening lawsuits against a newspaper for printing a critical letter to the editor — generated 10 newspaper articles and three editorials leading up to election day.
Berens was criticized both for accepting the cash and for the curious timing of the windfall.
On July 1, Senate Bill 51 went into affect which prohibits legislators from accepting cash or in-kind contributions over $50 in value during a calendar year.
Earlier this summer, Berens was appointed to the House Transportation and Energy Committee. In August, he received the money which equals two-thirds of his annual legislative salary. Though he would not return repeated calls from Colorado Confidential, he claimed to other news outlets that it would not affect his votes when the group had business before the committee. The Rocky Mountain News called for Berens to donate his winnings to charity.
Advice he rebuffed apparently to the demise of his candidacy.
This was a second rematch for Primavera and Berens for this seat. In 2004, she lost by 1,972 votes.
House District 33 represents the city of Broomfield and portions of Adams, Boulder, Weld, and Broomfield Counties. Of the nearly 55,000 registered voters in the district, 37 percent are unaffiliated voters. Republicans make up 35 percent. Democrats lag behind with 27 percent of the electorate.
With Primavera’s win, the entire Boulder County state delegation will be represented by Democrats when she is sworn into office in January.