| AspenTimes.com

Aspen City Council corrects address on ballot

The Aspen City Council held a brief meeting Thursday to correct ballot language for November so it accurately reflects the address of property voters may or may not approve for future city offices.

The council adopted language earlier this week identifying a portion of the 27,000 square feet of turnkey office space it might buy from developer Mark Hunt as 517 Hopkins St., said Jim True, Aspen city attorney. Hopkins is an "avenue" not a "street" and True said that while confusion was unlikely and the typo was probably irrelevant, he wanted the error fixed because there was time to do so.

The other part of that office space is located in the building next door at 204 S. Galena St.

Voters will decide in November if the city will build offices at that location across from the current City Hall or another location between Rio Grande Park and Galena Plaza.

Diane Mitsch Bush wins Democratic primary, will face Scott Tipton in 3rd Colorado’s Congressional District

Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican incumbent representing Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, now knows who he will face off against in the Nov. 6 general election: former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush.

All three Democratic campaigns eagerly awaited the returns once the clock struck 7 p.m. and the primary ballot boxes officially closed Tuesday evening.

From the first reporting, Mitsch Bush and her followers welcomed the results in from the Democratic headquarters in Pueblo as she was won in overwhelming fashion with 64 percent of the vote.

"People have taken time away from families, from their leisure time, from work to really get out and call and knock and work on the campaign," Bush said. "People from all over the district, from all walks of life. You know, votes from ranchers, coal miners, nurses, artists, teachers, heavy equipment operators and just everybody you could think of. … People from really all walks of life. Again, it's so humbling."

Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon, who finished second, stood alongside supporters at the Strater Hotel in Durango and former Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi watched with family and friends at his home in Carbondale.

Mitsch Bush won handily in Pitkin County with 58 percent of the vote, with Hanlon at 36.4 percent and Menconi at 4.9 percent.

With a district comprised of 29 counties from Moffat to Pueblo, turnout, particularly that of unaffiliated voters, was on everyone's mind. The looming question: How would the newly enacted Proposition 108, which, for the first time in Colorado history allows unaffiliated voters a voice in the primaries, affect the results, some of which came in not long after 7 p.m.?

At 8 p.m., just over 49,000 votes were reported and 64.2 percent of them belonged to Mitsch Bush. That number held pretty much all night. Not long after, Mitsch Bush was declared the winner.

As of 10:15 p.m., of 61,377 votes (66 percent of counties reporting), she had 39,353 votes. Hanlon was second at just over 17,000 and Menconi was third at nearly 5,000 votes.

An attorney and lifelong rancher, Hanlon said his first run for office was humbling.

"It's been six months. We've built an incredible network of volunteers," he said. "We have supporters in all 29 counties of the district. Those supporters, that support of those folks has been humbling and it's really … honestly it's been one of the greatest joys of my life to work together."

A social activist, Menconi said of his grassroots campaign, "Your voices are being heard. I have tried to represent the voices that are not heard of the poor and minorities and your voices are being heard as difficult a time we are in right now and I appreciate all the hard work that you do in every aspect of your life with your families and your communities."

Mitsch Bush faces the task of unseating Tipton, who has held his seat since 2011 and who defeated his 2016 Democratic challenger, former state Sen. Gail Schwartz, by nearly 50,000 votes.

Pitkin County voters mirror statewide results; Polis, Stapleton lead in county

While local races will have to wait until the November general election, about 25 percent of the registered Pitkin County voters nonetheless chimed in on statewide races during Tuesday's primary election.

The Colorado governor's race was, by far, the most contested race this election, with four Republicans and four Democrats vying for the chance to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper.

With 3,438 Pitkin County ballots counted as of 10:36 p.m. Tuesday night, the Democratic race was proving a bit more competitive than the Republican side, where Walker Stapleton was way out ahead with more than 63 percent of the vote. For the Democrats, Jared Polis held a solid lead of 48.7 percent. After that, Cary Kennedy and Mike Johnston were a distant second each with 23 percent of Pitkin County voters.

Republican Scott Tipton's 3rd Congressional District seat attracted three Democratic challengers, including attorney Karl Hanlon of Carbondale.

Hanlon, however, trailed three-term state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs 58.7 percent to 36.4 percent in Pitkin County for the right to run against Tipton in November. Tipton did not have a Republican challenger.

The most competitive race of the night — in Pitkin County anyway — was the fight for the Republican nomination to run for state treasurer. Justin Everett was leading Polly Lawrence 38.3 percent to 31.4 percent in that contest, with Brian Watson a close third with about 30.3 percent of the vote.

Dave Young was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to run for state treasurer.

Finally, Phil Weiser (58.5 percent) was ahead of Joe Salazar (41.5 percent) for the Democratic nomination to run for attorney general. The Republican in that race, George Brauchler, had no challengers.

According to the Secretary of State's office, there were 12,241 active voters register in May in Pitkin County.

Pitkin County will feature several competitive races for county offices in November.

The District 1 commissioner seat will feature incumbent Patti Clapper against the man she beat in 2014, Rob Ittner. Just one person, Kelly McNicholas Kury, filed to run for the District 2 seat, currently held by Commissioner Rachel Richards, who is term-limited.

Sheriff Joe DiSalvo will face longtime Aspen Police Officer Walter Chi in a bid for his third term in office, while former Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland will run against Deb Bamesberger, a longtime member of the county assessor's staff, for county assessor. Longtime Assessor Tom Isaac is retiring.

Clerk Janice Vos Caudill will run unopposed for her third term.


Dave Young positioned to win Democratic primary for Colorado treasurer; Republican race remains close

In the primary races for Colorado treasurer, Democratic state Rep. Dave Young looked positioned to best first-time candidate Bernard Douthit.

As of 9:30 p.m., Young was leading Douthit, with 69 percent of the vote after 418,000 ballots had been counted.

In the Republican primary for treasurer, the race was too close to call early Tuesday night.

Businessman Brian Watson and state Rep. Justin Everett, of Littleton, were locked in a close battle. Watson held a slight advantage, with 38 percent of the vote after 3379,000 votes had been counted as of about 9:30 p.m. Everett had 36 percent.

State Rep. Polly Lawrence was third, with 25 percent of the vote.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will be the Republican nominee as he runs for a second term after running opposed. He will face Democrat Jenna Griswold, who ran unopposed as well, in November.

For more on this report, go to denverpost.com.

Polis, Stapleton to face off for Colorado governor’s seat

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s primary delivered a left-versus-Trump showdown for this year’s gubernatorial elections, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis squaring off against Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton for a seat that Republicans haven’t held in this purple state in more than a decade.

The liberal Polis, a five-term congressman, and Stapleton, who embraced President Donald Trump’s immigration and tax policies, wasted no time in trading barbs following their primary victories Tuesday.

“Make no mistake: As governor, Jared Polis will raise every tax and fee he can to take more money from hardworking Coloradans,” Stapleton said.

“People are tired of hearing that divisive political rhetoric,” Polis said. “They want a governor who can unite rather than divide them. I can work with Trump when we need to, but I am not beholden to him.”

As a Democrat, Polis is an early, though far from guaranteed, favorite to become Colorado’s next governor. Colorado’s last Republican governor was Bill Owens, who served from 1999 to 2007. Centrist Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited.

In other races, Democrat Jason Crow won the primary in suburban Denver’s 6th Congressional District to try to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman. Doug Lamborn, the six-term Republican congressman in El Paso County’s 5th Congressional District, easily won his primary and is a heavy favorite to keep the seat.

Polis, a tech entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, advocates single-payer health care, local control over Colorado’s $31 billion oil and gas industry and lofty renewable energy goals for the state.

He invested $12 million in his campaign and is a fierce critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies and efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Polis also wants to secure free preschool and kindergarten for all Colorado children.

Stapleton, a distant relative of President George W. Bush, closely wedded himself to Trump on virtually every issue — even refusing to condemn the Trump administration’s immigrant family separation policies — except trade, where he opposes tariffs that could produce a trade war and harm Colorado industries.

He welcomed the federal repeal in the individual mandate that helps subsidize the Affordable Care Act and has pledged to fight any public expansion, especially when it comes to Medicaid.

Stapleton attacked Polis as someone who would chase energy jobs out of Colorado, and he also opposes Polis’ pledge to modify a constitutional amendment that severely restricts Colorado’s ability to raise taxes or spending.

Polis argues that Colorado’s rapid population growth — 5.6 million people and counting — demands a fiscal system that allows the state to invest needed billions of dollars in its underfunded infrastructure and public education.

A former state board of education member and founder of English-language schools for immigrants, Polis defeated former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, who was endorsed by Colorado’s teachers unions. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston, an educator and gun control advocate, and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne also ran.

Stapleton defeated former state Rep. Vic Mitchell, who invested nearly $5 million in his own campaign; Doug Robinson, a first-time candidate and nephew of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; and businessman Greg Lopez.

A voter-approved initiative in 2016 allowed unaffiliated voters, Colorado’s largest voting bloc, to participate in either the Democratic or the Republican primary. Early numbers showed more than 30 percent of active voters cast ballots, a high percentage for a primary in a non-presidential election year.


Associated Press writers Brian Eason and Kathleen Foody contributed to this report.

Gubernatorial races top Colorado’s mid-term primaries

DENVER — Democrat Jared Polis, a five-term congressman, and Cary Kennedy, a former state treasurer, offer stands on schools, energy and public lands to the left of the centrist Democrat they want to succeed as Coloradans vote in gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday.

Republicans, meanwhile, hope to take a governor’s office they haven’t held since 2007, and Tuesday’s GOP primary will select a challenger who offers a starkly different vision for purple-state Colorado that aligns with Washington’s immigration crackdown and attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

The race to succeed two-term Gov. John Hickenlooper tops the midterm primary, one in which unaffiliated voters, the state’s largest voting bloc, can participate without having to affiliate with one or the other of the major parties. A voter-passed 2016 initiative allows them to do so.

Hickenlooper has balanced oil and gas development with clean air standards, and as a former brew pub entrepreneur has overseen unprecedented economic growth in this rapidly-growing state of 5.6 million.

Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams said his office invested $900,000 in educating unaffiliated voters about the change. Each received two ballots — one Democrat, one Republican — and, if they chose, could return just one of them by mail or at drop-off centers. Return both and they cancel out.

“Citizens who make decisions here typically vote both Democrat and Republican. They’re used to being able to pick a Democrat for one office and a Republican for another office,” Williams said. “My goal has been to keep the disqualification rate as low as possible.”

Republicans and Democrats offered starkly different post-Hickenlooper visions for Colorado’s role — or resistance — in implementing Trump administration policies on immigration, the environment, taxes and health care.

Among the Democrats, Polis is a tech entrepreneur, former state board of education member and founder of English-language schools for immigrants. He has sparred with Kennedy over public education policy in the wake of teacher protests that gripped Colorado, Arizona and other states this spring.

Kennedy wrote a state constitutional amendment designed to increase public education funding and is endorsed by Colorado’s largest teachers union. But a misleading attack ad on Polis and former state Sen. Mike Johnston, himself an educator, by a pro-Kennedy teachers’ spending committee tapered the momentum of her grass-roots campaign.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a former health care executive, also is running. All agree that Colorado must change constitutional restrictions on taxation and spending to confront its rapid growth. All espouse universal health care, protecting public lands and promoting renewable energy.

The Republican candidates uniformly oppose any tampering with that amendment and embrace Trump’s stands on immigration, tax cuts and promoting oil and gas — a $31 billion industry in Colorado. All differ with Trump on his trade policy, warning that tariffs and the initial stages of a global trade war will harm the state’s economy.

Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a relation to President George W. Bush, has looked past the primary, criticizing Polis’ $12 million investment in his campaign and his support for local control of fracking.

Victor Mitchell, a former state representative, portrays himself as an outsider, has invested nearly $5 million in his own campaign, and challenged Stapleton’s truthfulness, especially his claim — since abandoned — to be the only U.S. state treasurer to endorse Trump’s income tax cuts last fall.

Investment banker Doug Robinson, a nephew of former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is a first-time candidate for public office. Rounding out the field is Greg Lopez, a former Parker mayor and regional director for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In suburban Denver’s 6th Congressional District, two Democrats are battling for the chance to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman. Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger, is the party favorite. Levi Tillemann, a former adviser to the U.S. Energy Department during the Obama administration, has tried to court anti-establishment forces on the left.

In El Paso County’s 5th Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn faces a Republican primary challenge from state Sen. Owen Hill and Darryl Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016. The conservative Colorado Springs district has elected Lamborn to six consecutive terms.

Here’s what you need to know for Colorado’s primary Election Day

It's primary Election Day in Colorado, and there's still plenty of time left to vote if you haven't cast your ballot yet.

But don't wait too long for the chance to have your voice heard in the long list of important contests being decided Tuesday night, from the governor's race to the Democratic primary for Colorado attorney general to the battles over statehouse jobs and congressional seats.

Ballots must be in the hands of your county's clerk by 7 p.m. Tuesday night to be counted. So that means if you haven't returned your ballot yet, it's far too late to mail it back in.

But ballots can be dropped off at your county's 24-hour election drop-off boxes or in person at your county's polling center or centers. At those centers, you can also vote in person if, say, your dog ate your ballot or the document is otherwise damaged.

Read the full story from The Denver Post. 

Eight candidates vie in primaries to succeed Colorado governor

DENVER — Colorado holds primaries Tuesday to select the top two contenders to succeed Gov. John Hickenlooper, a centrist Democrat whose promotion of aerospace, tech and a plethora of other industries helped generate unprecedented economic growth in this rapidly-growing state of 5.6 million people.

But to win, the leading Republican and Democratic candidates are eschewing the middle ground in this heavily independent purple state to appeal to their respective bases. Republican Walker Stapleton has wedded himself to President Donald Trump, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is tacking left on universal health care and marijuana.

That may be a risk: This year, independents — voters not affiliated with any party — can vote in the Republican or Democratic primaries. While independents are the largest voting bloc in Colorado, analysts say it’s too soon to measure their impact on primary outcomes.

Still, to hear Stapleton tell it, he’s already past the primary and running against Polis.

Stapleton, a two-term state treasurer, lashed out at Polis, a five-term Boulder congressman, several times during a Republican gubernatorial debate Tuesday — on immigration, raising taxes for schools and roads and safety standards for oil and gas drilling in a rapidly expanding Denver metropolitan area.

“I’ve taken a de minimis amount of money from people in the energy industry, but guess what — I hope they’re listening, because it’s going to need to be a lot more to defeat Jared Polis,” Stapleton said, referring to Polis’ $12 million investment in his own campaign and advocacy of local control over Colorado’s $31 billion oil and gas industry.

On that issue, Polis, a tech entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, advocates strict safety standards and full-throttle investment in green and renewable energy. He is a longtime advocate of Colorado’s burgeoning marijuana industry and eliminating federal interference.

But he’s also fighting a surprisingly close primary race centered on public education issues against former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, leaving it to the state Democratic Party to tackle Stapleton.

In all, four Republicans and four Democrats want to succeed the term-limited Hickenlooper. It’s the top primary race in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican governor since Bill Owens, who served from 1999-2007, or opted for a Republican presidential candidate since George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Republicans hold a 4-3 advantage in Colorado’s congressional delegation and one of two U.S. Senate seats. They control the state Senate and serve as treasurer, attorney general and secretary of state.

In the primary run-up, Republicans and Democrats offered starkly different post-Hickenlooper visions for Colorado’s role — or resistance — in implementing Trump administration policies on immigration, the environment, taxes and health care. In recent days, Hickenlooper himself has barred state agencies, including the National Guard, from supporting immigrant family separations, and he ordered Colorado to adopt California’s strict vehicle pollution rules.

Stapleton bear-hugged the administration’s deportation policies just as immigrant family separations were causing a national outcry. So, too, did his GOP rivals Victor Mitchell and Greg Lopez. Only Doug Robinson, a nephew of former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, opposed them at the Denver Post-KMGH-TV debate.

“It’s not who we are as Americans,” Robinson said. “We are the party of family values.”

It’s an uphill climb for Stapleton, a favorite of the GOP establishment whose mother is a cousin of President George H. W. Bush. Mitchell, who’s invested nearly $5 million in his campaign, challenges Stapleton’s truthfulness, especially his claim — since abandoned — to be the only U.S. state treasurer to endorse Trump’s income tax cuts last fall.

The Democratic race has focused on protecting immigrant rights, strengthening the Affordable Care Act and pressing state concerns such as underfunded schools and roads and skyrocketing housing costs. All vow to amend constitutional tax-and-spending restrictions that hamper investment in schools and transportation — a goal that proved elusive for Hickenlooper.

Kennedy has run a strong grass-roots campaign embraced by Colorado’s largest teachers union. A former Denver deputy mayor, she authored a constitutional amendment designed to raise K-12 spending.

Both Polis and former state Sen. Mike Johnston also have extensive education credentials. Former New York City mayor and gun-control advocate Michael Bloomberg has invested in Johnston’s campaign, which has featured roundtables on gun violence.

Also running is Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a former high-ranking health care executive who avoids the campaign squabbling, preferring a measured and sophisticated insistence that Colorado’s challenges have no easy answers.

“I think the election is for sale,” Lynne said this week as her opponents bickered over their campaign finances. “I’m a workhorse, and not a show horse.”

Independents can vote in Colorado’s major party primaries

DENVER — Colorado is joining a growing list of states that allow unaffiliated voters — the state’s largest voting bloc — to participate in the major party primaries, thanks to a voter-passed initiative that coincided with disenchantment with the polarization of the 2016 election.

The 2016 initiative allows Colorado’s 1.2 million active independent voters to cast ballots Tuesday in either the Democratic or Republican party primaries on Tuesday. The initiative passed in a year that saw presidential candidate Bernie Sanders defeat Hillary Clinton in Colorado caucuses and yet a strong vote for Donald Trump in the general election, though he lost the state.

Early mail and drop-off ballot returns suggest that more independents are voting Democratic in a tight gubernatorial primary to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. It’s too early to predict independents’ turnout or impact on the campaigns, advocates said.

“What this means for the races will take time to see,” Josh Penry said, a political consultant and former Republican state Senate minority leader who campaigned for the initiative. “As the parties self-immolate and people flee them, it’s important that they can vote in the semi-finals.”

“The reality is the GOP and the Democrats should be thinking about how to appeal to the people in this enormous bloc,” Penry said.

But there’s little sign that the major party gubernatorial candidates are reaching out in this swing state where Democrats and Republicans each have roughly 1 million registered voters.

Presumed Democratic front-runners U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy espouse universal health care, their public schools credentials, protecting public lands and promoting renewable energy. Republicans, including Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a cousin of President George W. Bush, generally embrace President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown and income tax cuts and promote Colorado’s oil and gas industry.

It’s that polar opposite, take-it-or-leave-it campaign buffet that prompted Alex Leith, a Denver civil engineer, to abandon the Democratic Party and become an unaffiliated voter two years ago.

“I was seeing a lot of hypocrisy coming from Republicans and Democrats,” Leith said. “I wanted to see a return to a common sense ability to actually govern and work across party lines.”

The 27-year-old cast his gubernatorial primary ballot this year for Republican businessman and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell. “He’s willing to not totally align himself with Republican dogma,” Leith said, citing Mitchell’s support for a “red flag” law that would allow the seizure of firearms from those who pose a danger to themselves or others.

Supporters of the semi-open primary argue that independent voters like Leith pay for the party primaries and should have a say in them.

Whether that generates higher turnout or moderate candidate positions could take several election cycles to determine. Arizona, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and West Virginia also allow independents to vote in primaries.

As of early Friday, more than 598,000 Coloradans had voted — including nearly 139,000 independents. Democrats had returned more than 231,000 ballots and Republicans had returned more than 228,000.

In 2016, 21 percent of active voters participated in the primary.

“Our data and our experience points to how philosophically diverse Colorado is. There is no such thing as a generic independent,” Kent Thiry said, the CEO of Denver-based dialysis firm DaVita Inc., who spearheaded the 2016 initiative.

“I’ve been an independent most of my adult life,” Thiry said. “To not have a voice until the final election in a country where the primary has become the final election … that is very frustrating to me.”

Thiry’s group released a poll this week suggesting that education, health care, jobs and the economy are the top issues for Colorado’s unaffiliated voters.

Seth Masket, director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, is skeptical that the new system will produce an immediate impact.

“A lot of states allow some version of this, and honestly the research suggests it doesn’t make that much of a difference whether (the primary) is open or closed,” Masket said. “The nominees end up looking like the ones the parties would choose themselves.”

Also running to succeed Hickenlooper are former Democratic state Sen. Mike Johnston and Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne. Republican businessman Greg Lopez and investment banker Doug Robinson, a nephew of Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney, want their party’s nomination.

Colorado hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1998, when Bill Owens was elected. He was re-elected in 2002.

Some Colorado primary ballots turned in for both parties, nullifying votes

DENVER (AP) — Hundreds of ballots for this year’s primary elections in Colorado won’t be counted because some unaffiliated voters have not followed the rules.

The Denver Post reports that unaffiliated voters can only send back a Republican or Democratic primary ballot — not both.

As of Friday, the Denver Elections Division says that of the 6,185 unaffiliated voter ballots received so far, 3.4 percent — or 214 — have been rejected because voters tried to cast ballots in both primaries.

In Larimer County, the percent of rejected ballots for the same reason is 3.15 percent, while it’s 4.3 percent in Arapahoe County. In El Paso County, 7 percent of unaffiliated voter ballots have been rejected.

Elections officials have been trying for weeks to get the word out about the rules for Colorado’s first open primary.