The final word is in: Newcomer Dennis Apuan has edged out Catherine “Kit” Roupe in Colorado’s House District 17, making him the third member of a Democratic delegation from El Paso County — and marking the first time since the 1970s that the Republican stronghold has sent three donkeys to the golden dome.
Apuan, a business and nonprofit administrator, beat Roupe by 380 votes, according to the final canvass. Come January, he will join fellow Democrats Rep. Michael Merrifield and state Sen. John Morse.
On Wednesday, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink also reported a record 274,681 people voted in the Nov. 4 presidential election in the state’s most populous county in south-central Colorado, up from 242,888 voters in 2004.
Two years ago, Morse handily beat incumbent state Sen. Ed Jones in a race in which the former police chief from Fountain was flogged by the now-defunct 527 Trailhead Group. Merrifield, a retired teacher, is entering his fourth and final term before voter-mandated term limits force him to step down. During his tenure, Merrifield has also received his share of attacks, including concerns about an e-mail he sent to a state senator in which he indicated a “special place in hell” awaited two pro-voucher Colorado Springs school board members who were at the time being recalled.
Come January, Colorado Capitol watchers will see another familiar face return. Former state House Majority Leader Keith King handily beat Democrat Pete Lee in his campaign this year to replace Sen. Andy McElhany, the affable minority leader who was also term-limited this year.
The other Republican members of El Paso County’s 11-member delegation include Reps. Amy Stephens, Bob Gardner, Larry Liston, Kent Lambert, newcomer Mark Waller (who ousted Douglas Bruce) and state Sens. Bill Cadman and Dave Schultheis. Incoming Republican state Sen. Mark Scheffel also represents a small portion of El Paso County.