Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Battle for Colorado part 2: Focus on the Metro Area State Senate Races.

Here is a look at the Denver Metro area State Senate districts that have elections this year. If you would like to see an interactive map of the districts, click here.

Senate District 17, Eastern Boulder County, features Republican Sandy Hume facing Democrat Brandon Shaffer. Shaffer has a fundraising advantage, $17,689 to Hume’s $10,095. He also has the advantage of this district electing term limited Democratic State Senator Terry Phillips by a 54% to 41% margin in 2000. This district is basically the same as it was before redistricting, and as such, it leans Democratic.

Senate District 18, the City of Boulder (or People’s Republic as some call it here) and some of central Boulder County. This is a Safe Democratic Seat. Ron Tupa is running for re-election. Since the GOP failed to even get 25% of the vote last time, look for them to lose this time around also. But if you are interested in who will be losing to Senator Tupa, click here.

Senate District 19, North Eastern Jefferson County, a toss-up. Senate District 19 is featuring what is probably the showcase battle this year. Incumbent Sue Windels (D) is looking to win a second term. She beat the very conservative Jim Congrove (R) in 2000, but the margin of her victory was smaller than the votes that the Libertarian candidate got. Also of note, this district hardly changed during redistricting. Look for a barn burner as GOP upstart Jessica Peck Corry, a 25 year old community activist and a Director at the Libertarian Independence Institute looks to take the district back for the GOP. Last time Windels won by the skin of her teeth, 49.35% to 47.5%. This time she has little choice; she can either increase her razor thin margin, or go into retirement.

Senate District 21. Incumbent Deanna Hanna (D) represents the heart of Lakewood. She is challenged by former School Board member Tori Merritts (R). Deanna Hanna beat the very conservative State House Representative Penn Pfiffner (R) in 2000. The GOP won back his old house seat last year, and they are targeting this seat this year. It is commonly accepted that if Republican moderate and former mayor of Lakewood Linda Morton would have won the primary against Pfiffner in 2000, she would have beaten any Democrat. Tori Merritts avoided a primary (as did Jessica Corry in SD 19) through some back room deals at the GOP headquarters. She seems to be the moderate that is needed to beat Deanna Hanna. However, Hanna had a convincing victory last time, 54% to 46%, and until more information becomes available, I have to say that this district leans Democratic.

Senate District 23 is an open seat, and also looks to be a featured race this election season. In 2000 Republican Ken Arnold won by .8% against Michael Massarotti, and that was with him running as an incumbent. However, this district has changed dramatically with redistricting. No longer just the south east corner of Boulder County, SD 23 now encompasses the City and County of Broomfield (which broke off from Boulder County not so long ago) and much of south west Weld County. Now in 2004 Republican Shawn Mitchell is facing off against Democrat Kurt Williams. I’m keeping this one in the toss-up category. But I have the feeling that the redistricting could change that prediction before October.

Senate District 25. Democratic incumbent Stephanie Takis should sail to an easy victory against her Republican challenger Kevin Blount. She won in 2000 with 55% of the vote. While the GOP has been making gains in Adams County, this Senate Seat is safely in Democratic hands. It would take an incredible GOTV on the part of the Republicans to win this seat. Maybe in 2008, with the completion of some more suburbs, the Republicans can make Adams County more competitive.

Senate District 26, Safe GOP. In 2000 the Democrats didn’t even field a challenger to now incumbent Jim Dyer. This time they’ve sent Jared Ingwalson to be defeated by Dyer.

Senate District 27 makes up the lions share of Arapahoe County. In 2000, before redistricting, this was a competitive district, since it was centered on the I-25 corridor near the Denver Tech Center. However, look for this race to be nowhere near as close as the 52% to 46% race in 2000. This seat leans GOP. The Democrats have Lisa Love, who has raised less than $1,000. She is facing Republican Nancy Spence, who has raised over 25 times that amount.

Senate District 28. Republican incumbent Bruce Cairns is looking to keep his seat which he won in 2000 with 52.6% of the vote. He should benefit from getting some of SD 27’s Republican parts. The Democrats have sent Suzanne Williams against Senator Cairns. This race is a target for a Democratic pickup. Suzanne Williams has raised over $40,000 (mainly from labor unions). Senator Cairns has only raised about $22,000. Until I have determined how much of a factor that extra money is in this race, I’m keeping this race in the leans GOP column.

Senate District 29. Safe Democratic. Look for Bob Hagedorn (D) to increase his margin of victory from the 11% that it was in 2000. His Republican opponent Mike Martin doesn’t have much of a chance.

Senate District 31. Safe, but open, Democratic seat. This is the Central Platte Valley. If the GOP gets more than 25% of the vote it is a victory. Look for Jennifer Veiga to enjoy her term in the State Senate as she moves up from the House. The Republicans have no one running.

Senate District 33. North East Denver, Safe Democratic seat. Peter Groff (D) is heading to an easy election since he has no opponent.

Senate District 35. Safe Democratic seat. Ken Gordon (D) is seeking re-election, this time against Ron Olson (R).

Projected make-up of Colorado State Senate: Democrats 15-18, Republicans 17-20. Structurally, since the Democrats are defending two tossups and the GOP is defending only one, it is highly unlikely for a repeat of the year 2000 when they won control of the state senate. I need to look at some more current fundraising numbers and I need to look at the new registration numbers, but I put the odds of the Democrats winning the State Senate at 4-1 subject to some changes before election day.

Cross posted at Polstate.

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