Weld the only pos­si­ble blot on Dems’ night

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By An­drew Ken­ney

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 would be the only race where Repub­li­cans made 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.

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

Galindo, the Demo­crat, is a 28year-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 A to­tal of 17 seats of the cham­ber’s 35 seats were up for elec­tion in 2018. Democrats man­aged to flip two seats, giv­ing them a ma­jor­ity in the up­per house of the state’s General As­sem­bly and the party’s sev­enth state govern­ment tri­fecta — a sin­gle-party govern­ment with a Demo­cratic gover­nor and a Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity in both cham­bers of the leg­is­la­ture — since the 1993 ses­sion. All 65 seats in the Colorado House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives were up for elec­tion in 2018. Democrats are poised to gain an­other seat in the lower cham­ber of the state’s General As­sem­bly, giv­ing them a larger ma­jor­ity in the House. 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.

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.”

Rep. Jo­van Mel­ton, a Demo­crat, held on to his seat in Aurora’s House District 41. His cam­paign was shaken by rev­e­la­tions that he had twice been charged in con­nec­tion with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­ci­dents, re­sult­ing in a guilty plea in 1999 at age 20. A charge in 2008 for mis­de­meanor as­sault was dropped.

“The vot­ers de­ter­mined one should not be judged on their past,” Mel­ton said. He will step down, though, from his role as ma­jor­ity deputy whip and won’t seek any lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

The new equa­tion

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 will 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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