DENVER -- Though the GOP takeover swept across the nation on Tuesday, two pro-gun Republican recall winners who helped start the shift of power in Colorado before election season lost their seats in the state Senate Tuesday night, leaving control of that crucial chamber still up for grabs Wednesday morning.
If Democrats were to retain their majority in the state Senate, they would not only control that chamber, but the governor's office, with FOX31 Denver calling that tight race in favor of John Hickenlooper Wednesday morning, and possibly the state House, as well.
However, many were surprised to see the race for the majority in the House, where Democrats once owned a large 37-28 advantage, still up for grabs Wednesday.
But with thousands of votes left to count in places like Jefferson County and Adams County -- and with tight races remaining in those counties' districts -- the battle for the majority was yet to reach a definitive conclusion.
If Republicans were able to establish a majority in the state Senate, it would be nothing short of historic, considering its been a decade since the party has done so. Before Tuesday's election, Democrats held an 18-17 edge in the state Senate, with 18 seats up for grabs.
One of the key races that was still undecided Wednesday morning was District 24, where Republican Beth Martinez Humenik was leading Democrat Judy Solano by over 1,216 votes -- or 3 percentage points. The outcome of that race, however, was one depending on the 20,000-plus remaining Adams County votes to be counted.
Two of the seats that changed hands Tuesday night once belonged to pro-gun recall winners Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs, and George Rivera, R-Pueblo, both of whom lost their races by relatively large margins in Districts 11 and 3, respectively.
Herpin, a former Colorado Springs councilman, took the Senate District 11 seat that had been held by recalled Senate President John Morse, a Democrat, since 2006. Rivera was elected to take recalled Sen. Angela Giron's place in Senate District 3.
But on Tuesday night, Democrat Michael Merrifield, a former state House representative from District 18, toppled Herpin by over 10 points in District 11. And in District 3, Democrat Leroy Garcia, also a former state rep. from District 46, downed Rivera by just less than 10 points.
With Herpin and Rivera in the state Senate for a brief 13 months, Democrats saw their five-seat majority trimmed to one. But with both Herpin and Rivera losing their seats Tuesday, Democrats were still clinging to hopes of retaining their majority in that chamber.
Most expected Democrats would lose control of the state Senate in this election. The momentum for a GOP takeover began to build last year, when Morse and Giron were recalled over their support of controversial gun laws that were passed in the state's 2013 legislative session.
But for as contentious an issue as gun control was at that time, it seemed to fade into the background this election season.
Jefferson County, as per usual, looked to be the linchpin in the GOP's effort to take over the state Senate, and two of the party's candidates in those counties -- Laura Woods and Tony Sanchez -- were backed by the pro-firearms group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
As of Wednesday morning, Sanchez, who faced attack ads about his possible ties to the controversial JeffCo school board, was trailing incumbent Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, by 1.5 points. Woods, meanwhile, was leading Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, by just over 1.5 points. Zenzinger was appoint by Democrats last year after the resignation of Evie Hudak, who also feared she would be recalled due to her support of the state's new gun laws.
In the other two JeffCo races, Tim Neville was leading Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk, by 1.5 points Wednesday morning, while Larry Queen was trailing Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, by a mere 31 votes with 98 percent of that vote reporting.
As tight as the race was between Jahn and Queen, there were still over 10,000 votes left to be counted Wednesday morning, and Senate Democrats told FOX31 Denver's Eli Stokols they expect Jahn to pick up the majority of those late votes.AlertMe