State Senate Battlegrounds Take Shape

State Rep. Kyle Mullica, now running for Senate in SD-24

We’ve been meaning to write something about control of the State Senate in Colorado now that the Primary Election is over. Sandra Fish at The Colorado Sun beat us to it, so we’ll start there:

Democrats now hold a 20-15 advantage in the Senate.

They are guaranteed 12 seats, with 11 holdovers and one Democratic candidate, Sen. Julie Gonzales of Denver, running unopposed.

Republicans are guaranteed eight seats, with seven holdovers and one uncontested race in Senate District 1 on the deeply Republican Eastern Plains, where Logan County Commissioner Byron Pelton is unopposed.

Another five seats up for grabs in November are considered solidly Republican, while three are considered solidly Democratic.

That leaves seven seats that are possible pick-up opportunities for the GOP, according to Cnalysis, which ranks the competitiveness of state legislative contests.

We’ve never heard of “Cnalysis,” but seven is an incorrect number of potential GOP pickup opportunities. SD-15 is currently held by Republican Sen. Rob Woodward; the district will likely be very competitive in 2022 (Janice Marchman is the Democrat in the race), but a Woodward victory would only represent a “hold” for the GOP.

The rest of the list included in the Sun story is consistent with everything we’ve seen and heard recently. Here are the six races that will likely decide which party controls the State Senate in 2023 (listed in numerical order according to district number):

You probably noticed that there are a lot of incumbent legislators on this list. Democrats have five current State Representatives running for State Senate (Dylan Roberts, Tony Exum, Lisa Cutter, Kyle Mullica, and Tom Sullivan). Democratic Sen. Nick Hinrichsen is sorta an incumbent since he was appointed in February to fill the remainder of the term vacated by Leroy Garcia. Republican Sen. Dennis Hisey is also sorta an incumbent; while he is a current State Senator, Hisey is running in 2022 in a different district because of redistricting.

In order to take control of the State Senate in 2023, Republicans need to win three of the six seats above while holding all of their current seats (including SD-15).

13 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Littletonian says:

    No. Rs need to win FOUR of those six to take control of the chamber. Seven returning members, plus B. Pelton, plus five safe R contested seats, plus Woodward's seat is 14.  They need 18 to control the Senate.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      Three pickup wins would make it an 18-17 advantage for Republicans. 

      • Littletonian says:

        With three pickups, they'd be at 17 (or tell me who I'm missing):

        1. B. Pelton (SD-1)

        2. Smallwood (SD-2)

        3. Baisley (SD-4)

        4. Rankin (SD-5)

        5. Simpson (SD-6)

        6. Rich (SD-7)

        7. Lundeen (SD-9)

        8. Liston (SD-10)

        9. Gardner (SD-12)

        10. Priola (SD-13)

        11. Woodward (SD-15)

        12. Kirkmeyer, or her replacement (SD-23)

        13. Van Winkle (SD-30)

        14. R. Pelton (SD-35)

        …plus three pickups gets them to 17.  They need four to get to 18.

        • unnamed says:

          The confusion might be because Dennis Hisey currently represents SD2, but was drawn into SD11, where he is running against Tony Exum.  Ballotpedia lists him as an incumbent, since he is a sitting State Senator, and the seat is open.  That is Repub seat number 15.

          • Littletonian says:

            Right, but the seat he's running for this year is competitive and listed in Pols' table in the OP. Counting his seat as an incumbent hold and as a pickup opportunity would be counting it twice. Rs need to win four of the six races listed in the table to control the Senate.

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    Since I have a hard time imagining how Republicans will pull off upsets of Polis, Bennet, or any of the incumbent House members, and all of those races will have campaign money, is there any indication of a strategy of trying to lengthen the coattails of those at the top of the ballot and improve chances of downballot wins?  Seems like Senate and House races that are, in any sense, "competitive" would benefit from some targeted registration, GOTV, and holding events in those contested areas.

  3. Dano says:

    I have been out of statewide politics just long enough to not really know the players anymore. But based on the districts, I only see 5 worth watching:

    SD11: Currently DEM: but now has all that eastern Springs. I'm guessing this one goes GOP. Hisey will be replaced by a vacancy committee so his old district (not up this year) remains GOP as well.

    SD20: Currently DEM, but has some big GOP pockets. Has that changed?

    SD24: Currently DEM. I have a hard time getting a feel for western Adams these days. How competitive is this one considered?

    SD25: Currently GOP but redistricting gives incumbent advantage to DEM. Traditionally a toss-up area.

    CD30: Currently GOP Might be wrong on this one but it seems new district should be bluer than old was and it's open, so maybe DEM pick-up?

    The rest look like fairly foregone conclusions to me. Am I wrong?

    • Meiner49er says:

      SD15 now includes a lot of west Boulder County which makes it more competitive–close to 50/50. It'll be Marchman's turnout against Woodward's personal fortune. If you live in a safe seat district, you know what to do!

      • Dano says:

        The redistricting committee found it to be dead even based on ele3ction results from 8 races. Voter registration gives Rs a 2% advantage, but the Unaffiliated and Other Party votes make up 46% of the electorate so not sure how much R vs D numbers matter.

  4. Gilpin Guy says:

    I'm in SD 8 and have met Dylan Roberts a couple of times.  He comes across as the real deal and is campaigning hard in a BIG district (10 counties from the Front Range to the Utah border).  Go Dylan.

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