Tim Hernández concedes race to Cecelia Espenoza after day two ballot returns still leave him behind

“These aren’t the results we wanted today, but I’m not going anywhere,” Hernández wrote.
4 min. read
State Rep. Tim Hernández (second from right) pores over election results during his Election Night watch party at Convivio Cafe on 38th Avenue. June 25, 2024.

Updated 7:59 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Incumbent state Rep. Tim Hernández has conceded the race for the Democratic nomination in the House District 4 election to his challenger, Cecelia Espenoza.

"These aren't the results we wanted today, but I'm not going anywhere," Hernández wrote in a statement on X, formerly Twitter. "This is my community, and they cannot and will not stop what we are organizing and building towards, together."

New ballot returns released in the afternoon after Election Night nudged the race closer, but still had Hernández trailing by 6 percentage points and 664 votes.

In Denver's other lingering Democratic primary, state Rep. Elisabeth Epps was significantly behind Sean Camacho — about 22 percentage points and 3,249 votes — in the race for House District 6. She has not conceded.

The two races were viewed as a referendum on the activist wing of the Democratic party versus the establishment wing, although each contest had its own unique dynamics.

Results remain unofficial until they're certified on July 12.

Cecelia Espenoza won her second fight against Hernández for HD-4. Here's what she ran on:

Espenoza spent her career as an immigration judge and attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. She served in leadership positions in national Hispanic corporate and community groups. 

Since losing her bid for a vacancy appointment to the seat last year, she began to tour through District 4, meeting residents and hearing about their most pressing issues. Housing dominated those conversations.

She wants to push for property tax reforms that would prevent the state from surprising residents with higher bills. She’d also like to collaborate with the Denver assessor on helping people pay off their surprise property tax bills in installments. 

Espenoza, like her opponent, would also like to regulate the rates of rent increases.

Cecelia Espenoza, wearing a blue dress and jewelry, wears a big smile as she reacts to election results. You can see her campaign signs in the background.
House District 6 candidate Cecelia Espenoza cheers the first data drop on Election Night, during her watch party at The Bar At Plaza 38. June 25, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

“The biggest difficulty that I'm hearing at the doors is being hit with unexpected expenses,” Espenoza told Denverite earlier this year. “My goal would be for homeowners and renters to minimize their unexpected expense increase. I've heard of people in rental units that have had up to 100 percent increases thrown at them from landlords. That's unacceptable. We don't allow that in usury. We don't allow that in other places of law. So, we need to make sure that we're providing protections on that side.”

District 4 has some of the most dangerous roads in the state. Espenoza wants to work with both Colorado lawmakers and city lawmakers to create safety improvements across her community. 

She’s a proponent of expanding mental health care and protections for reproductive rights and gender-affirming care. Espenoza is interested in exploring education and criminal justice reform. 

“You want someone who's going to represent everybody,” Espenoza told Denverite. “My commitment is to unity, leadership, tenacity and experience. I think that I have an understanding of all of HD4 and its constituents and needs.”

More on the HD-4 race

Espenoza will take on Republican Jack Daus, the sole GOP contender for the seat in a district that has voted to elect the Democratic candidate for well over a decade. 

Whoever wins the general election in November will represent a swath of north and west Denver, from the north of the Regis neighborhood to the middle of Westwood. 

Hernández and Espenoza already competed last year to fill the vacancy left by previous state Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, who left the role in July 2023 after winning an at-large Denver City Council seat.

Hernández won the vacancy fight and has been on the job since September. 

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