Weld the only possible blot on Dems’ night
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.
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.
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.