2022 primary election: Top 4 Colorado legislative races to watch


In a few dozen Colorado legislative districts where voters lean heavily toward Democrats or Republicans, the November winner’s political party is all but assured.

Some of these constituencies feature an incumbent running unopposed in the June 28 primary election. For example, in eight recent statewide elections, Democrats running in Denver’s District 8 enjoyed a 74.4 percentage point advantage over Republicans, according to a analysis by a nonpartisan legislative redistricting staff. Incumbent Democratic State Rep. Leslie Herod is unopposed in the June primary, meaning she is almost certain to be re-elected in House District 8 in November.

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But in the handful of heavily Republican or Democratic districts with two people vying for the dominant party’s nomination, the June election is more interesting — and the winner will enjoy an easy path to victory in November. Below are some legislative primary competitions to watch:

District 6 House, Denver

Primary voters in Denver’s District 6 will choose between Democrats Elizabeth Epps and Katie March in a high stakes fight. Epps, the progressive frontrunner, is the founder and executive director of the Colorado Freedom Fund, an organization that helps post bail for people awaiting trial in prison and advocates for criminal justice reforms, including an end to the cash deposit. Epps has the endorsements of state senses Pete Lee and Julie Gonzales, and state officials Steven Woodrow and Jennifer Bacon, among others. March gained substantial political experience working in various roles on Capitol Hill for the office of State House Speaker Alec Garnett. She is endorsed by Garnett and a slate of moderate Democrats, including state senators Janet Buckner and Chris Hansen and former state senator Lois Court.

Epps, a former public defender, supports a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and increased funding for mental health care and addiction treatment, according to his website. She criticized Gov. Jared Polis’ climate policies as inadequate and advocated for abortion rights and against police brutality.

March wants to improve access to capital for small businesses, raise the minimum wage and work to eliminate the state’s reliance on private, for-profit prisons, of which two remain, in Bent and Crowley counties. According to her website, she worked closely with Garnett on the 2019 Red Flag Act which allows law enforcement to remove firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others, and helped pass legislation last year requiring safe storage of weapons fire.

Epps’ campaign recently received a donation of $2,000 from the small donor committee of Colorado WINS, the state employees union, and $5,350 from Local 105 of the Service Employees International Union. State Representative Emily Sirota, a Democrat from Denver, donated a total of $360. Epps’ campaign had received more than $158,000 in total contributions as of May 31.

The March campaign received over $134,000 in total contributions. Recent donations include $1,500 from the Plumbers Local 3 Small Donor Committee; $400 from the Associated General Contractors of Colorado, which lobbies for the commercial building industry; and $400 from former House District 6 candidate Sean Camacho.

House District 6 extends southeast from North Broadway and East 20th Avenue to South Havana Street and East Mississippi Avenue. In eight statewide elections from 2016 to 2020, Democrats had a 66.9 percentage point advantage in the district, according to redistricting staff analysis. The winner of the June Democratic primary will still have to beat Republican candidate Donald Howell in November.

House District 42, Aurora

In Aurora’s House District 42, Democratic primary voters have a choice of two candidates: the incumbent state representative. Mandy Lindsay and long-time municipal employee Gail Pough. Lindsay was selected earlier this year by a vacancy committee to replace former Representative Dominique Jackson, who resigned for a senior position with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Of five candidates vying to replace Jackson, Pough received the second-most votes from the vacancy committee, Aurora Sentinel reported at the time.

Lindsay helped sponsor a invoice this year which established a revolving loan and grant program for mobile home owners seeking to organize and purchase their communities. She is a community organizer, small business owner and former legislative aide who has also championed bills to extend the protections for the mental health records of injured workers and extend a state subsidy program for projects benefiting former coloradans.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and state officials Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Barbara McLachlan and David Ortiz, among others, endorsed Lindsay. SEIU Local 105 recently donated $3,000 to Lindsay’s campaign, and the small Colorado WINS donor committee donated $2,000. The campaign also received $400 from state Rep. Monica Duran, a Democrat from Wheat Ridge, last month, and has brought in a total of $14,000 in contributions as of May 31.

Pough worked as a safety inspector and volunteered with organizations including Together Colorado, the Aurora NAACP and the National Council of Black Women, according to her website. Pough says she wants to make rental fees more transparent to potential tenants, “find ways to lower the total rent,” protect abortion rights, and provide more resources to K-12 schools to help fill pandemic learning gaps.

It is approved by the senses. Rhonda Fields and Janet Buckner and State Representatives Leslie Herod and Jennifer Bacon, among others. Pough’s campaign donations include $400 from former House District 42 candidate Eric Nelson, $200 from the Buckner for Colorado Leadership Fund, $150 from Buckner herself and $300 in total from Fields. The campaign had received nearly $12,900 in total contributions as of May 31.

House District 42 is directly east of House District 6, stretching from South Airport Boulevard west to Yosemite Street. Here, the Democrats enjoy a 45.8 percentage point advantage. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Cory Parella.

A view of the Colorado Capitol on July 7, 2021. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

House District 63, Northeast Colorado

A Republican incumbent faces a primary challenger in House District 63, a sprawling district in northeastern Colorado where Republican candidates hold a 53.8 percentage point margin over Democrats. representing Richard Holtorf of Akron has held his seat in the House since 2019, when he was named by a vacancy committee to replace the late Rep. Kimmi Lewis. Holtorf won the election in 2020 and, in his second election, now faces a primary opponent in Jessie Vance of Eckley.

Former state senator Greg Brophy backed Vance, who on his Facebook page promises to “never waver” on protecting Second Amendment rights and to “get the world’s oil and gas back on track.” Colorado”. Vance also has endorsements from the Colorado Chamber of Commerce and all three Yuma County Commissioners.

Vance’s campaign has brought in more than $13,000 in contributions as of May 31, and Vance said he loaned his campaign an additional $1,795 on June 8. The campaign recently received $400 from the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, as well as $250 from the Committee for the American Dream and $750 from the Homes for All Coloradoans committee – both linked to the Colorado Association of Homebuilders.

Holtorf, an Army veteran and rancher, is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling. In April, he spoke at a rally attended by Holocaust deniers Mike Lindell and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. Holtorf is fluent in Spanish and last year was the only Republican in the House to vote “yes” on a bill to establish multilingual voting resources.

Recent donations to Holtorf’s campaign committee include $400 from former Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Don Ament, $100 from State Senator Larry Liston and $200 from the Colorado Bankers Association. It brought in over $10,000 in total contributions for the election cycle.

House District 63 covers all or parts of Weld, Morgan, Washington, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, and Yuma counties. The rural district includes communities that are central to Colorado’s agricultural, oil and gas industries. No Democratic candidate is running in June or November.

Senate District 9, El Paso County

In dark red Senate District 9, which covers northwest El Paso County, the outgoing state Sen. Paul Lundyen de Monument is seeking re-election for a second term. He faces a main challenger in retired Air Force Lt. Col. Lynda Zamora Wilson, who secured first place on the ballot in the GOP county assembly.

Wilson most recently worked as an assistant professor of economics at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, according to her. LinkedIn page. The former Air Force economist put ‘election integrity’ at the heart of her platform, recounting Colorado Politics she wants to end mail-in voting — the choice of more than 98% of Colorado voters in the November 2021 election, according to a statement from the office of the Colorado secretary of state. A political newcomer, Wilson also supports “protection of the US Constitution” and “traditional education,” according to Colorado Politics. Wilson’s campaign has brought in just $870 in contributions as of May 31, much of which came from the candidate herself.

Lundeen, the Senate Minority Whip, was first elected to the state Senate in 2018. He was a co-lead sponsor of bipartisan bills last year to regulate how businesses protect consumers’ personal data and restrict high potency marijuana products. A former chairman of the State Board of Education, Lundeen has long advocated for school choice policies on Capitol Hill. He also helped inaugurate the School Funding Act by the Legislative Assembly this year. The law cuts the budget stabilization factor, or negative factor — the amount the state owes schools under a formula but chooses to spend on other priorities — to its lowest amount since 2010.

Last month, Lundeen’s campaign received $5,350 from the small committee of donors at the Apartment Association of Metro Denver; $2,000 from the Colorado Dairy Farmers Small Donor Committee; and $400 from the Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Lundeen’s campaign contributions totaled about $73,200 as of May 31.

Republican candidates had a 33.4 percentage point lead over Democrats in the last eight statewide elections, giving the winner of the GOP primary a significant advantage. They will still have to defeat Democrat Arik Dougherty in November.


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