Kerr Sets Sights On Senate; Where’s Ken?

As anticipated, State Representative Andy Kerr on Monday announced his intentions to run for Jefferson County’s Senate District 22.

From Fox 31’s Eli Stokols:

DENVER — Like their Republican counterparts, Democratic state lawmakers are now scrambling to adapt to reapportionment and the new map of state House and Senate districts.

On Monday, state Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, who’s been drawn into a House district that is now home to three sitting lawmakers, announced that he will be running for the new Senate District 22 in 2012.

Kerr, who’d have been term-limited out of the House in 2014, made the announcement Monday at the Belmar Shopping Center in Lakewood.

“The new map surprised all of us in Lakewood as much as people anywhere in the state,” Kerr told FOX31 Denver. “Republicans complained about how they’ve been affected, but it’s happened to some of us Democrats as well.”

Republican Tim Neville was chosen by a vacancy committee to replace Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp in S.D. 22, but because of changes to the district under the map, he’s likely to lose his grip on the seat.

Kerr’s decision will avoid a primary for his House District, which is now also home to Rep. Max Tyler, D-Golden.

Republican Rep. Ken Summers has yet to decide whether he’ll challenge Tyler for the House seat or take on Kerr for the right to move to the Senate.

Kerr and Representative Max Tyler clearly worked things out behind the scenes regarding their mutual residency – term-limits made Kerr the logical choice to leave the House in favor of the Senate.

But what’s Ken Summers running for? Like Kerr, Summers has just one term left in the House before being termed out. To win that term, he’d have to take down Tyler in a district that former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy won in 2010 with nearly 55% of the vote. That’d be an incredibly tough race, particularly because it would be Summers’ last: even if he wins in 2012, the seat will be open in 2014.

It’s that much more likely, then, that Summers will challenge Kerr in SD-22. Kennedy won that district by less than one percentage point in 2010, so it’s that much more favorable for Ken or any other Republican.

Still, Summers hasn’t indicated which incumbent Democrat he’d rather challenge. He told the Colorado Statesman that he was planning on making a decision as of last Friday, but that deadline (and Kerr’s announcement) came and went without a peep from the south Jeffco Republican. We think that’s part of his strategy: by waiting to declare his candidacy until just before session, Summers can prevent both Tyler and Kerr from gaining any ground in campaign fundraising. Democrats will pour money into whichever race Summers jumps into, but until he makes that call, he’ll be able to keep donors guessing.

It’s a smart strategy, especially considering that not one of the three Jeffco representatives are able to fundraise from lobbyists once the legislature convenes next month. By staying quiet, Summers helps to ensure that the real campaign against him can’t effectively start until May.  

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