Republicans appear to hold slim majority in Colorado House

It’s still possible it won’t happen, but the Republican Party appears to have won a majority in the Colorado House, if only by a slim margin.

While Democrats await the final results in three House races, the GOP already declared itself the victor in the battle to win a majority in the 65-member House.

At present, the numbers favor them, said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, who would likely become the new speaker of the House if the GOP gets the 33 seats it’s expecting.

“Everybody in our caucus has worked so hard to win this majority, and everyone’s excited about having the opportunity to go out and move forward with the issues we’ve been working on,” he said. “From our perspective, this is an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to work together. Having a lever on government certainly increases our opportunity to bring balance back to policy-making in the state.”

Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak, however, isn’t ready to concede. Currently, two incumbent Democrats, Reps. Sara Gagliardi of Arvada and Dianne Primavera of Broomfield, trail their Republican opponents by 221 and 405 votes, respectively.

While all of the ballots have been counted in Gagliardi’s race, there still are 5 percent of them out in Primavera’s, Waak said.

“I’m just waiting to see what those votes say, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they come in (in Primavera’s) favor and push her over the top,” she said. “We’re not conceding anything yet.”

The third race Democrats are awaiting is House District 61, where write-in candidate Kathleen Curry hopes her independent bid will win her enough votes over Democrat Roger Wilson of Glenwood Springs. The Republican in the race, Crested Butte attorney Luke Korkowski, already conceded the race.

In the Colorado Senate, Democratic incumbent Sens. Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village and John Morse of Colorado Springs eked out victories in their races, preventing the Republicans from taking a majority in that 35-member chamber.

As a result, the Democrats will see their 21-14 majority cut to just a three-vote lead.

One of the Republicans who helped narrow that majority is Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who defeated Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus, by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin for Senate District 6.

Roberts said her main task in the Senate will be much as it was in the House, to protect the Western Slope from bearing a disproportionate brunt of efforts to balance its budget, specifically the practice of diverting severance tax revenues to programs other than energy-impacted communities where the money is intended.

“We are often on the receiving end of a disproportionate hit because we have fewer people on the Western Slope, and as far as I’m concerned that’s completely unacceptable,” Roberts said. “I am so flabbergasted that Denver would find it acceptable to take that from us. Those funds are not spent frivolously.”

Meanwhile, Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was busy Wednesday celebrating his own win over two conservatives, American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo and Republican Dan Maes.

The Denver mayor said that if the GOP does end up winning a majority in the House, so much the better.

“The one thing I’ve learned very well with the city is by giving people power you build ownership, and I think that’s a big part with how most people want to see the state governed,” he said. “We need to get the opinions and the priorities of a lot of people and weave those into a fabric that protects things like public education. What’s amazing to me is: If you listen hard enough to people, you realize you all won’t have the same first choice, but you might have the same second choice.”


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