The seven Colorado Senate districts that will determine whether Democrats keep control of the state legislature
The Colorado Senate is likely where Republicans have their best chance this year to regain control of state government from Democrats after four years in the legislative and executive minority.
While the GOP will attempt to win a majority in the Colorado House and unseat Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, the odds are stacked against them in both areas. That leaves the 35-member Senate as the most plausible place to turn the tide.
Here is an overview of the location of the battlegrounds.
The lay of the land
Democrats now hold a 20-15 advantage in the Senate.
They are guaranteed 12 seats, with 11 leftovers and one Democratic nominee, Sen. Julie Gonzales of Denver, unopposed.
Republicans are guaranteed eight seats, with seven remainders and an uncontested race in Senate District 1 on the deeply Republican Eastern Plains, where Logan County Commissioner Byron Pelton is unopposed.
Five more seats up for grabs in November are considered solidly Republican, while three are considered solidly Democratic.
That leaves seven seats that are possible pickup opportunities for the GOP, according to Cnalysis, which ranks the competitiveness of state legislative contests.
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The seven critical districts
The seven tossup districts are across Colorado. We have listed them below.
(Amounts in parentheses correspond to the amount of money each candidate had in their campaign bank account as of June 22.)
- Senate District 3: This Pueblo seat bows Republican. Democratic state senator Nick Hinrichsen ($26,919) takes on Republican Stephen Varela ($14,387), an Army veteran. Hinrichsen was appointed to the seat earlier this year after Senate President Leroy Garcia resigned to accept a post at the Pentagon.
- Senate District 11: This reconfigured district of Colorado Springs leans toward the Democratic party. GOP state Sen. Dennis Hisey ($33,179) moved into the district after being stripped of his former seat during the decade-long redistricting process. He will face State Rep. Tony Exum ($9,238), who won his main contest.
- Senate District 15: Cnalysis indicates that this district leans Republican. Incumbent Republican state Sen. Rob Woodward ($138,003), of Loveland, will face Democrat Janice Marchman ($30,531), a math teacher at Loveland Middle School.
- Senate District 27: This district in Arapahoe County leans Democratic. State Rep. Tom Sullivan ($41,217), a Democrat and gun regulation advocate, faces Tom Kim ($3,022), a business owner and former lawyer.
- Senate District 20: This district in Jefferson County leans Democratic. State Rep. Lisa Cutter ($41,254), Democrat, faces Tim Walsh ($22,689), owner of Confluence Builders.
- Senate District 8: This Democratic-leaning district is based in northwest Colorado. Democratic state Rep. Dylan Roberts ($124,176) takes on former Eagle Councilman Matt Soloman ($19,632), a Republican.
- Senate District 24: This is a Democratic-leaning district in northwest Adams County. Democratic state Rep. Kyle Mullica ($54,272) faces Republican Courtney Potter ($16,607), a board member of Adams 12 Five Star Schools.
Here is an overview of the 17 State Senate seats up for election this year, with voter registration:
Most of the spending in these races will not be made by the candidates, but rather by the state-level super PACs that support them.
In 2018, when Democrats wrested control of the Senate from Republicans after four years in the minority, Republican outside groups spent nearly $8.5 million, compared to $8.3 million for Democratic outside groups over five races. competitive. That compares to the $1.9 million spent by Democratic candidates in the five contests, while the five GOP candidates spent a total of $631,000.
And in 2020, Democratic outdoor groups spent $6.1 million compared to $3.3 million for Republican outdoor groups.
This year, Republicans have the cash advantage until June 22.
The Senate Majority Fund had raised about $2.6 million to support Republican candidates, while All Together Colorado had raised about $1.7 million to support Democrats.
GOPAC’s National Election Fund contributed $560,000 to the Senate Majority Fund and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Colorado PAC contributed $160,000 to the fund.
The National Republican State Leadership Committee recently donated $200,000 to super PAC Unite for Colorado Action. This state-level super PAC spent $1.6 million in 2020, mostly on state senate contests.
Education Reform Now Advocacy donated $290,000 to All Together Colorado, and Denver philanthropist Merle Chambers donated $250,000 to the group.
It’s likely that money will continue to flow to these two super PACs and possibly others as Nov. 8 approaches and the battle for the state Senate heats up.