Sunday, February 21, 2010

Colorado State House 2010 Forecast...The Dirty Dozen Most Competitive Seats

Currently, the Democrats hold a six seat majority over the Republicans in the State House. This includes Rep. Kathleen Curry (I) of Gunnison who strangely changed her registration creating a saga of strange events that we don't really have time to go into. Luckily her district (61) is included in our list, so we get to hear more about that strange saga. The GOP needs to pick up six seats in order to gain control of this chamber. As MHD has reported before, the GOP has a very low probability of gaining control over the State Senate, so it looks like the big battle in 2010 will be for the State House.

Below is a map of the Denver Metro Region. We describe the suburbs around Denver as the ring of fire. It is this region where control of the State House is won and lost. Look for big battles in Jefferson county and Adams county this fall.

Our top 12 most competitive State House Races are listed below, ranked by how likely they are to result in a change in party.

Rank 1
House District 38. Joe Rice (D) Littleton. Joe Rice's district has a PVI of R +9, and as a veteran he must know that he is "behind enemy lines." In 2008 Rep. Rice outspent his Republican opposition by about 100K. No contribution amounts have been turned in so far for either party this cycle. Rice sponsored the hated FASTER vehicle registration fee increases, a fact he seems to be proud of. Unless he gets about 50K ahead of whomever the GOP puts up, we list this as a leans GOP pick up.

Rank 2
House District 33. Dianne Primavera (D) Broomfield. District 33 has a PVI of R +1. In the 2008 cycle Primavera outspent her GOP opposition by 100K. This race should be competitive in the 2010 cycle. So far the GOP has raised 8,500 vs. Primavera's 11,500. Mark as a Toss Up.

Rank 3
House District 17. Dennis Apuan (D) Colorado Springs. This District currently has a Partisan Index score of D +5. This district's demographics, including its large transient population from Fort Carson makes it competitive. During the 2008 cycle Rep. Apuan outspent his Republican opponent, but only by about $1,000 out of a combined amount of 80K. This far out, this race can only be looked at as a Toss Up. We will keep an eye on the candidates and the money race.

Rank 4
House District 27. Sara Gagliardi (D) Arvada. This district has a Partisan Index of R +5. Rep. Gagliardi represents a extremely competitive district. In 2008 Gagliardi outspent her Republican challenger by over $60K in a race with only 140K in total candidate expenditures. Gagliardi currently has a $14,600 headstart on any Republican challengers. We will see if the political environment erodes more for the Democrats here in Colorado, if Gagliardi doesn't outspend her opponent by basically 2-1 she will probably lose in 2010. We are listing this in the Toss Up category right now.

Rank 5
House District 61. Kathleen Curry (I) Gunnison. This district has a PVI of D +7. In 2008 the GOP and Rep. Curry (then a Democrat) raised nearly the same amount of money. So far there are no listings for fundraising. This is a toss up at its best.

Rank 6
House District 29. Debbie Benefield (D) Arvada. This District has a Partisan Index of D +1. District 29 is nearly evenly divided between Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. Rep. Benefield won in 2008 to only token Republican opposition. She spent nearly 79K on her election while the GOP spent a token 1.5K. For this cycle she has already raised 10K. There are no records of any Republican fundraising yet. Leans Democrat.

Rank 7
House District 30. Kevin Priola (R) Brighton. This District has a PVI of D +9. It is a traditionally Democratic district in Democratic Adams County. In the 2008 cycle Priola outspent his Democratic opponent by $27K, raising 67K to 40K. The power of money, or at least its function as a statistically significant predictor of the winner in competitive districts cannot be overstated. Priola has so far raised 29K for the 2010 cycle, his Democratic opposition has not yet sorted its field out. List this as leans GOP.

Rank 8
House District 31. Judy Solano (D) Brighton. This district has a PVI of D +3. Rep. Solano outspent her GOP opponent 2-1 in the last election. She has so far raised 15K, she has no listed GOP opposition. Leans Democrat.

Rank 9
House District 52. John Kefalas (D) Fort Collins. Rep. Kefalas was out raised by 50K by his Republican opposition in 2008, yet he still managed to win the very competitive district. So far he has raised 22.5K vs. no listed Republican challenger. Leans Democrat.

Rank 10
House District 23. Max Taylor (D) Golden. This district has a Partisan Index of D +5. Rep. Taylor took over the district from former Rep. Gwen Green, he is not a veteran of an election. This district has trended more and more Democratic since 2004, we list it as leans Dem.

Rank 11
House District 64. Wes McKinley (D) Walsh. This district has a PVI of D +7. In 2008 McKinley outspent his opponent 3-1. We list it as leans Dem.

Rank 12
House District 50. James Riesberg (D) Greeley. District 50 has a PVI of D +1. In 2008 he outspent his GOP opponent by 4-1! He has currently raised about 22K which is 22K more than his GOP opponent. List this as Leans Dem.

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