Democrats poised to hold Colorado House majority; GOP may take back Senate

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DENVER -- Tuesday night's Republican wave has stopped just short of taking out Colorado's Democratic governor and, it now appears, the party's House majority as well.

Democrats, who held a 37-28 majority in the statehouse the last two years, are poised to retain their House majority, albeit a smaller one.

Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Denver, and Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora, hold slim leads over Republican challengers and will give the Democrats the 33 seats they need to retain control of the 65-member chamber should those leads hold up.

Kagan's lead over Republican Candice Benge has grown to 416 votes from 91 Wednesday afternoon; and Ryden leads GOP challenger Richard Bowman by 589 votes.

Republicans are close to defeating four incumbent Democrats, but needed five seats to win control of the chamber.

“The voters are sending us back to the statehouse to build on the progress Colorado made in 2013 and 2014, when we helped make our state safer, healthier and more prosperous,” said Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, who is likely to be elevated to House Speaker by her caucus next week.

"I'm extremely proud of the work all our candidates did.  Regardless of the outcome of these races, our House Democrats did amazing work, both at the capitol and in their districts during the campaign, and I am tremendously proud of and grateful to all of them for their tireless dedication to our state."

Rep. Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, has lost his race against Kit Roupe; and Democrats could suffer two unexpected losses in Adams County, where Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Jenise May, D-Aurora, continue to trail their GOP challengers (although Salazar is down just 5 votes as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday).

"Adams County was a surprise," Ferrandino said Thursday.

Adams County has been slow to process ballots because of a write-in campaign in another race so it's possible those races could still shift once more returns are finalized.

And in Durango, Democratic Rep. Mike McLachlan trails GOP challenger J. Paul Brown by 229 votes, although there may be a few hundred ballots left to count.

Senate control hinges on Adams County race

Adams County is also likely to settle which party will control the state senate, where Democrats are still clinging to hope that they can retain their 18-17 majority.

The Senate District 24 race will likely be the difference maker, with Democrats and Republicans already having battled to a draw in the other competitive races.

At the moment, former Rep. Judy Solano is trailing Republican Beth Martinez-Humenik by 929 votes in the battle to replace the term-limited Democrat Sen. Lois Tochtrop.

Several thousand ballots have yet to be tabulated in Adams County, enough to leave the outcome of that race in doubt.

If the margin holds, Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, stands to be the next Senate President.

Democrats have likely lost two competitive seats in Jefferson County, where Republican Laura Woods appears to have ousted Sen. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada and former GOP Sen. Tim Neville has defeated Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Blackhawk.

But those wins have been negated by Democrats winning back both of the seats the party lost in 2013's recall elections.

In S.D. 3, Democratic Rep. Leroy Garcia easily ousted Sen. George Rivera, R-Pueblo; and former Democratic Rep. Michael Merrifield took out Sen. Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs.

Democrats also appear to have held on in two other competitive Jefferson County races that Republicans had eyed as pick-up opportunities, with Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, now comfortably ahead of Republican Tony Sanchez by 1,044 votes in S.D. 22 and Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, now pushing her advantage over GOP challenger Larry Queen from 31 votes Wednesday to 196 on Thursday morning.

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6 comments

  • wjriedel

    Seems to me the headline for this article should have been Democrats appear to barely hang onto majority in State House and stand to lose majority in State Senate. This would have been a more honest headline.

    • Conservative Fail

      Or it could read: “A Win is a Win, regardless of the margin” or it could say “Don’t count your chickens until they hatch” or even “Premature Headline in Wednesday morning incorrect” lots of spin you could put on it 😜

    • WillyJ

      If Eli thinks losing 5 Democrat House members and hanging onto the house by merely ONE vote and losing the Senate is good news, then I guess you could say it was good news for him. I, however, would not call that good news for the Democrats.

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