2018 Denver election guide: General Assembly candidates

State representatives applaud after Senate Bill 17-267, Sustainability Of Rural Colorado, was passed on the last day of the legislative session, May 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

State representatives applaud after Senate Bill 17-267, Sustainability Of Rural Colorado, was passed on the last day of the legislative session, May 10, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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There are 35 state Senate seats and 65 state House seats making up the state’s General Assembly. The Senate has an 18-16 Republican majority (there’s one independent senator), while the House has a 36-29 Democratic majority.

Denver residents will be voting on 11 seats in the General Assembly — including three senators and eight representatives — during the November election. These are all Denver-based seats, with some overlapping into other counties. Three House seats feature candidates facing no challenger, while every Senate seat will be contested.

Most of the General Assembly seats representing Denver are held by Democrats; that probably won’t change this year. Most of these races are, sorry to say, not competitive when considering past election results.

Kelly Maher, executive director at the conservative nonprofit organization Compass Colorado, said the most competitive seats are usually in Adams County. She additionally said Senate District 5, 16, 20 and 22 are also pretty competitive.

“It’s a tough year,” Maher said. “That said, I think that the math is generally favorable for Republicans.”

ProgressNow Executive Director Ian Silverii also pointed out Senate District 16 and 22; that last one involves his wife, Democrat Brittany Pettersen. Along with Republican Tony Sanchez, Pettersen is seeking to replace state Sen. Andy Kerr, a Democrat. The district represents Jefferson County.

But the marquee race? That would be the District 24 race between incumbent state Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, a Republican, and Democrat and state Rep. Faith Winter. Both Maher and Silverii said this was the tightest race in the Senate. Winter raised her profile after she became a local figure in the #MeToo movement after she publicly disclosed allegations against one of her colleagues that led to his expulsion. This race could end up being as close as 2014 when Martinez Humenik squeaked by Judy Solano with less than 900 votes.

“It was kind of a shocker that Judy lost that race,” Silverii said.

Silverii believes the Democratic candidates are outworking their Republican peers. But he added that he thinks Dems are running against money from Republican-leaning super PACs pouring money into the races, leading to him seeing negative ads against his wife while playing Words With Friends.

“Democrats do great things in Colorado when they’re in office,” Silverii said. “They’re progressive but moderate in their approach.”

Maher called this year’s election “critically important” for Republicans, who will hope to hold the Senate.

“Eighteen seats has been the difference in Colorado between an entire Democrat agenda and a check on the system,” Maher said.

One forecaster — Governing, a magazine — rates Colorado’s Senate race as a tossup while projecting Democrats will likely hold the house. Democrats are hoping this year’s election helps them flip the Senate, with at least one race that Denver voters can help decide.

Enter the weirdly-shaped Senate District 16. It lies mostly outside Denver County, in neighboring Jefferson County. The portion of this Senate district in Denver County gives more than 17,000 local voters a chance to cast a vote in his race (out of about 140,000 total in the district), which could be a pivotal seat in deciding the majority party in the Senate.

And a caveat: If you don’t see one of these races on your ballot, don’t freak out. This just means you don’t live in or aren’t registered at a residence that falls within the district.

State Senate

District 16

District 16 Senator Tim Neville. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

District 16 Senator Tim Neville. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Incumbent state Sen. Tim Neville hopes to keep this seat red after flipping it in 2014. It’s the only GA seat on some of Denver’s ballots with a Republican incumbent. Neville faces a challenge from Democrat Tammy Story. Libertarian James Gilman also seeks to represent the district.

This will likely be the only competitive race among the three state senate seats Denver voters will decide. Neville defeated then-state Sen. Jeanne Nicholson in 2014 by less than 2,000 votes in this district, which stretches into four counties.

Neville is a pretty conservative legislator, perhaps the most conservative in either chamber. He’s known for his pro-life platform, which has included bringing a pregnancy counseling clinic to the Capitol in April 2015 during a hearing for a bill that would have required doctors to provide additional information like ultrasound photos before women could get an abortion. He told the Denver Post he will support protection of individual rights, the Second Amendment, defend TABOR, and oppose so-called sanctuary cities.

In a message posted on his campaign website, Neville thanked the people who voted for him.

“We’re already working to strengthen and protect taxpayers, reduce unnecessary business regulations, protect life and individual freedom of conscience, and restore our Constitutional rights,” the message reads

Story unsuccessfully ran for the House District 25 seat in 2016. She has been heavily involved in Jefferson County Public School as a public school activist and helped with the recall campaign to remove three school members from the district in 2015. She highlights fighting back against income inequality, improving roads and infrastructure, and making health care more affordable to families among the issues she’s most interested in addressing.

“My commitment to community advocacy was sparked by my passion for the great outdoors, shaped by my appreciation for exceptional public education, and honed by recognizing the value of mentorship for career professionals,” Story says on her campaign website. “It would be my honor to serve as your State Senator.”

District 32

Incumbent state Sen. Irene Aguilar is term-limited. Democrat Robert Rodriguez, Republican Mark Calonder and Independent Peter Lucas Smith are vying for the seat. The district encompasses the southernmost parts of Denver County, including neighborhoods in the southeast portion of the city.

District 34

Incumbent state Sen. Lucia Guzman is term-limited. Democrat Julie Gonzalez and Republican Gordon Alley are running to replace Guzman, who was the former minority leader. This district includes downtown Denver, the West Side and portions of north Denver.

State House

District 1

District 1 Representative Susan Lontine. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

District 1 Representative Susan Lontine. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Candidates: Incumbent Democrat Susan Lontine, Republican Alysia Padilla and Libertarian Darrell Dinges.

District 2

Democrat and Assistant Majority Leader Alec Garnett is running unopposed.

District 4

Democratic State Rep. Dan Pabon is term-limited. Running to replace Pabon are Republican Robert “Dave” John and Democrat Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez.

District 5

Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran is term-limited. Democrat Alex Valdez, Republican Katherine E. Whitney and Libertarian Rory Lamberton are running for the seat.

District 6

Incumbent state Rep. Chris Hansen is running unopposed.

District 7

District 7 Representative James Coleman. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

District 7 Representative James Coleman. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Incumbent state Rep. Democrat James Rashad Coleman is facing a challenge from Republican Jay Frank Kucera.

District 8

Incumbent state Rep. Leslie Herod is running unopposed.

District 9

Democrat State Rep. Paul Rosenthal failed to qualify onto the ballot, which means his seat is open. Democrat Emily Sirota and Republican Bob Lane.

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