Legislative contests coming into focus
Legislative races still are more than a year away, but that hasn’t stopped some legislators from announcing plans for re-election.
Locally, Sen. Ray Scott has not yet said what he will do.
Last year, the Grand Junction Republican said he was considering a bid for Colorado governor, but that hasn’t happened and isn’t expected to.
While Scott hasn’t made anything official yet — he’s expected to announce in the next week — he’s indicated that he will run for a second and final four-year term in the Colorado Senate.
And why not?
As assistant majority leader, Scott is in a position to be majority leader by the 2019 legislative session, assuming Republicans maintain control of that 35-member panel and those GOP senators elect him to that post.
Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, is term-limited and cannot run.
That leaves current Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, in the best position to take over the top spot. Holbert is up for re-election and can serve another four years.
Currently, Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the Senate, and their prospects for retaining that position are good. Of the seven open seats next year from term-limited senators, four are held by Democrats, with two of those being competitive races that Republicans could take.
The three open Republican seats are in safe GOP districts.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a path for Democrats — it just puts them on the defensive. Overall, there are 10 seats currently held by Republicans and eight seats currently held by Democrats that are up for grabs.
While Democrats will have trouble retaining two seats held by term-limited Sens. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, the Republicans could be hard-pressed to keep the seat held by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton.
Republicans, however, also could see an opportunity in the seat currently held by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail.
Donovan’s district, which includes Delta County, still has more registered Republicans than Democrats, though it also has far more unaffiliated voters than the two major parties. She defeated now Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes, a Republican, in 2014 by only a 2 percent margin.
Donovan just kicked off her re-election bid last week, and plans to tour all seven counties in her district. She’ll be at Remedy Café in Paonia and First Colorado National Bank in Delta on Wednesday.
To date, no Republican has announced plans to challenge her.
Meanwhile in the Colorado House, all 65 seats are up, including those held by Grand Junction Republican Reps. Dan Thurlow and Yeulin Willett.
There are five term-limited seats — all Democrats — including Rep. Millie Hamner of Frisco, whose district includes Delta County. Only one person has entered that race, Dillon Democrat Julie McCluskie.
Other local legislators who are expected to run again include Reps. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, and Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, and Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose.
Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner, whose district includes Garfield County, isn’t up for re-election next year. He’s halfway through his final term before facing term limits.
A dozen legislators are leaving to seek higher office, including Rep. Diane Mitsch-Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, who has already resigned her seat to be the Democratic Party nominee for the 3rd Congressional District and a chance to face U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican.
Grand Junction City Councilor Chris Kennedy also is seeking the Democratic nomination in that race.