The Spot: Five Storylines From Election Day In Colorado

Weld County voters may have interrupted Democrats’ perfect night of legislative races in Colorado — or maybe not.

The Democrats ran the table in statehouse races. They took the Senate, defending all of their vulnerable seats and picking up a majority. In the House, they appear to have flipped three Republican seats, ousting a party leader. And they were close to another upset in Jefferson County, where Democratic candidate Brianna Titone led by nine votes in House District 27 as counting continued on Wednesday.

By Wednesday afternoon, the only threat to the Democrats was in Weld County’s House District 50. Republican Michael Thuener held a 200-vote, 1-point margin over Democrat Rochelle Galindo in incomplete results.

If Thuener succeeds, it could be the only race where Republicans make any gains this year in Colorado.

Greeley blues

Democrats previously posted strong victories in District 50, with Rep. Dave Young most recently winning by a 16-point margin in 2016. But the seat was open this year — Young won election to state treasurer on Tuesday.

Thuener would be the first Republican representative in the Greeley area seat since 2002, according to the Greeley Tribune.

>Colorado Election Results

“There are still a lot of votes to be counted,” he said in a phone interview. He said that his campaign focused on himself and the district rather than the larger political tides. “For us, primarily, it was about providing real representation and being willing to set aside partisan politics and be able to listen to the district and represent their priorities.”

Thuener is a 36-year-old technician and father of three who served in the U.S. Army.

Galindo, the Democrat, is a 28-year-old school building manager who previously worked with Young. She describes herself as the child of a working-class family, and she was the first openly gay elected official on the Greeley City Council.

“It’s a 47 percent Latino district, and we have UNC smack dab in the middle,” Galindo said.

Weld County still had 30,000 ballots to count Wednesday, according to clerk and recorder Carly Koppes, some of which may affect the House race.

Suburbs flipped

Democratic candidates were successful everywhere else — especially in suburban metro Denver.

A Democratic challenger, Kyle Mullica, unseated Republican incumbent Alexander Winkler in Adams County.

In Jefferson County, Democrat Lisa Cutter was poised to take an open Republican seat in Jefferson County, and Tammy Story beat incumbent Tim Neville in a Senate race.

In Arvada-centered House 27, Brianna Titone took the lead over Republican Vicki Pyne late on Wednesday in a district that has run deep red. Titone would be the state’s first openly transgender legislator.

“I had conversations with a lot of challenging voters that were often disenfranchised and angry about politics in general,” Titone said, adding that she felt confident about the results. “I told them that what I want to do is I want to bring the people back into government. I don’t want them to be voiceless.”

The elections drew longtime Jeffco resident Nancy Lebsock, 69, into campaigning for the first time. “I came to the conclusion that you’re either part of the problem, or you’re part of the solution,” she said. “I had to do something or go crazy.”

In Centennial and Aurora, Republican Rep. Cole Wist lost his seat to challenger Tom Sullivan. Sullivan, whose son Alex was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting, ran on gun safety and other issues.

The defeated Wist is the Republicans’ assistant minority leader. He had sponsored a “red flag” bill to limit gun sales — a position that may have cost him Republican support at a critical time, according to Denver political consultant Curtis Hubbard.

“He was somebody who I think was really a star, and a voice of moderation. I think that one is certainly difficult,” said Hubbard, who primarily works with Democrats. “It is a testament to sort of where we are in the debate over gun safety.”

Republicans had previously won the seat by margins of about 10 points.

Rep. Susan Beckman, a Republican, was locked in a tight race in Arapahoe County’s District 38, holding a lead of 541 votes in Wednesday night’s count.

The new equation

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Before the elections, Democrats held a seven-seat advantage over Republicans in the state House. That could grow to 13 seats, depending on the Greeley race’s outcome. They’ll finish with a maximum of 39 of the chamber’s 65 seats.

That will give them extra wiggle room as they try to pass bills. But it leaves them far short of the next milestone: a “supermajority” of 44 seats in the House. A House supermajority could override the governor’s vetoes and introduce constitutional amendments for approval by voters, but only if it was joined by a Senate supermajority, too.

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