GOP takes House with close win in Jefferson County
The Republican Party’s control of the Colorado House is official.
Though most legislators from both sides of the aisle had been operating since Election Day as if that were the case, it didn’t become official until the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office completed its count of provisional and military ballots Wednesday for House District 29.
The final count confirmed Republican newcomer Robert Ramirez had unseated the incumbent, Rep. Debbie Benefield, D-Arvada, by only 197 votes.
“It was very clear to me that their No. 1 goal throughout this process has been to ensure that every vote was counted,” Ramirez said of the election judges. “I am grateful for their dedication and hard work in what turned out to be a close race.”
Although the win gives the GOP the majority, it’s by the narrowest margin: 33-32.
Newly named House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, said close races and the nearly even split in the 65-member chamber are part of a clear message from voters that they want a bipartisan state government.
Even though the Democrats still control the Colorado Senate and the governor’s office, both parties will have to learn to work together to get things done, Pace said.
“You can’t operate a majority in such a hyper-bipartisan environment,” he said. “With such a slim margin, it’s impossible for a caucus to keep all of its members together on every vote. The voters sent all of us a message, and we need to live up to that.”
Newly named House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Colorado Springs, repeated that sentiment, saying both parties need to focus on helping improve the state’s economy.
Earlier this week, Republican candidates in two Senate races also conceded their close contests, giving Democrats a 20-15 majority there. Democrats had controlled the 35-member chamber 21-14.