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Boebert beats Don Coram in GOP primary for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District

Lauren Boebert, representative for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, sits inside Glenwood Springs City Hall after speaking with City Council earlier this year.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent file

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert on Tuesday took a major step toward securing a second term when she easily defeated her Republican primary challenger, state Sen. Don Coram, in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. 

The Associated Press called the race for Boebert at 7:36 p.m. Boebert was leading Coram with 64% of the vote compared to his 36%.

Coram promised to be a drama-free, get-it-done replacement to Boebert in Washington. But 3rd District GOP voters decided instead by what appeared to be a commanding margin to stay the course with the Garfield County congresswoman, despite all of her controversies, which have helped make Boebert a national Republican figure. 

Boebert raised far more money than Coram heading into the primary election in the 3rd District, which sweeps across 25 counties from the Western Slope into Pueblo and southeast Colorado. She also benefited from about $375,000 in support from outside groups. 

Read the full story from The Colorado Sun here.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Tuesday last chance to vote in June primaries

Those who have not voted in the Tuesday primary elections can still drop off their ballots in-person at the following locations.

  • Pitkin County Administration and Sheriff’s Office, 530 E. Main St., Aspen
  • Town of Snowmass Village Town Hall, 130 Kearns Road, Snowmass Village
  • Basalt Town Hall, 101 Midland Ave., Basalt

The ballot boxes will close at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Democratic primary ballot for Pitkin County includes contests in House District 57 (Cole Buerger and Elizabeth Velasco) and the 3rd Congressional District (Adam Frisch, Soledad Sandoval Tafoya, and Alex Walker). Incumbent Democrats Sen. Michael Bennet, Gov. Jared Polis, Secretary of State Jena Griswold, State Treasurer Dave Young and Attorney Gen. Phil Weiser are running opposed in the primary.

The Republican primary ballot for Pitkin County has Ron Hanks, Joe O’Dea and a write-in spot for U.S. Senate; Heidi Ganahl and Grez Lopez for the gubernatorial nomination; incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert against Don Coram for the 3rd Congressional District; and Pam Anders, Mike O’Donnell and Tina Peters up for the nomination in the race for secretary of state.

Incumbent HD 57 Rep. Perry Will is running unopposed. Lang Sias is running unopposed for the GOP nomination in the state treasurer’s race, as is John Kellner in the contest for attorney general.

Voters in both the Democrat and Republican primaries also will have three choices in the Pitkin County sheriff’s primary contest. Challengers Michael Buglione and Michael J. Buysse are running against incumbent Joe DiSalvo. The top-two overall vote-getters will advance to the November general election.

More details at www.pitkinvotes.com.

Gov. Polis talks affordable housing, child care, teacher retention during visit to Glenwood Springs

Gov. Jared Polis speaks with Garfield County resident Roger Ben Wilson during a stop in Glenwood Springs on Thursday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Gov. Jared Polis’ campaign trail brought him to Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant in Glenwood Springs on Thursday evening, where he spent time fielding questions from local leaders and activists.

Polis, running for his second term as Colorado governor, was in the midst of a three-day swing, hitting 22 stops throughout the Centennial State.

Topics of discussion included housing, child care services, a need for more Spanish translators and educator recruitment and retention.

He also highlighted how the state responded to catastrophes like COVID-19, wildfires and the Glenwood Canyon debris slides from summer 2021.

“Amidst all that, I’ve really been so impressed to see the great resilience of the people of Colorado,” Polis said.

The past three years for Garfield County under Polis’ leadership has seen a whirlwind of major events. Eighty nine residents have died from COVID-19, while the Grizzly Creek Fire and ensuing debris slides exacerbated commutes and economic hardship.

And as the cost of living rises, the average sales price for a single-family home in Garfield County continues to hover near $660,000.

Polis’ administration has responded to housing inflation by asking whether the state should do more to push more construction of affordable housing units.

“We’re working very aggressively to partner with cities and counties to create more housing close to where jobs are in a thoughtful, planned way, so that we’re not putting more traffic on the roads, so that we’re not adding more pollution to the air,” Polis said. “We’re excited to help communities like Glenwood have more affordable housing, close to where the jobs are — which is particularly challenging in the high country.”

Garfield County’s high cost of housing and living has also led to challenges in recruiting and retaining educational staff for school districts. The Roaring Fork School district just passed a mill levy override to be used to source up an extra $7.7 million to increase teacher salaries.

On the other end of Garfield County, the Garfield Re-2 district is currently trying to make healthcare packages more affordable.

Polis said the education budget currently put forth by the state is a “record increase.”

It’s close to a 9% increase,” he said. “What that means, it’s about a $13,000 increase for a class of 25 students.”

Polis also touched on other ways the state is trying to bolster education.

“In addition to the increase of 9% of the School Finance Act, we’re separately sending another $90 million to school districts for special education,” Polis said. “So distributed according to special education counts to meet the needs of our learners that have special needs.”

Gov. Jared Polis addresses constituents during a stop in Glenwood Springs on Thursday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Local Spanish interpreter Jen Quevedo also asked Polis what he’s doing at the state level to offer more Spanish language access throughout institutions, like schools and police departments.

“Our hospitals don’t have interpretation,” she said. “The nonprofits that are accepting money from federal grants don’t have access to interpretation. Counties, municipalities, they don’t have proper interpretation.”

Polis said the state created in 2019 the New Americans Initiative, which employs Coloradans who arrived in the US as immigrants or their children, according to the website.

“They work especially with people who are arrivals over the last couple of decades,” he said. “And so that’s probably our point person on linguistic issues, and I’ll have her reach out to you.”

Local attorney Karl Hanlon asked about health care and how Polis plans to reduce costs for small businesses policies.

Polis, who signed into law new health insurance policies that aim to keep premiums lower for individual and small group markets, said this Colorado Reinsurance Program helps save money for people who either don’t get insurance through their employer.

“The latest thing that we did was the Colorado Options Policy, which includes the small group markets. What the Colorado Public Option does is, it will reduce rates about 15% in the small group market over the next couple years.”

Election for the Colorado governors’ race is Nov. 8.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com

Vail’s Kerry Donovan suspends campaign against Lauren Boebert

Kerry Donovan, who has a residence in Vail and a family ranch near Edwards, faced a steep challenge to unseat Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s sprawling, red-leaning 3rd Congressional District.
Dave Zalubowski/AP

Kerry Donovan, the leading Democratic challenger for Lauren Boebert’s seat in Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District, announced Friday morning that she is suspending her campaign as a result of Colorado’s new congressional map.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to earn the support of Coloradans and Americans from all walks of life, and I cannot express my gratitude for each and every person who stepped up to help our campaign. With over 60,000 contributions and an average donation of less than $25, we built a grassroots movement that crossed the continental divide, party lines and ideological differences,” Donovan said in a statement. “We built one of the most powerful campaigns in the country, bringing together tens of thousands of people dedicated to standing up for our democracy and bridging divides to solve the problems our nation faces.”

Donovan, who has a residence in Vail and a family ranch near Edwards, already faced a steep challenge to unseat Boebert in the far-flung, red-leaning district. The state’s redistricting of Colorado’s eight congressional districts only pushed Boebert’s advantage by pushing Donovan into the 2nd Congressional District. Donovan had already suspended fundraising for her campaign last month after the state’s independent congressional redistricting commission approved the new map before submitting it to the Colorado Supreme Court for final approval.

The new map puts most of the Eagle River Valley in the 2nd Congressional District — leaving Dotsero and a few other random slivers isolated in the 3rd Congressional District with El Jebel and Basalt in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Previously, the Eagle River Valley was more evenly split between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts with the boundary falling in the Avon/EagleVail area. Congressional representatives don’t have to live in the district they represent, according to federal law, just the state their district is in.

Donovan’s departure leaves a host of other Democrats who will be vying for the party’s nomination to run for the 3rd District seat next year, including Glenwood Springs attorney Colin Wilhelm.

“This campaign was about standing up to hateful and divisive leadership and making sure that the West, which has big problems to solve, was represented by someone who would fight for us, not a headline,” Donovan said. “While each $15 check in the mail with a memo ‘We believe in you’ or $20 donation at a meet and greet made me more committed by the day, the congressional maps failed to recognize the complexity of rural Colorado and instead divided communities, protected incumbents, and ignored Coloradans’ voices. As a result, there is no viable path forward for me to remain in this race, and I have made the decision to suspend my campaign for Congress.”

There was no reaction from Boebert on either of her Twitter accounts to the news of Donovan all but exiting the race. The congresswoman based out of Garfield County was generating headlines, however, for a post she shared on Twitter on Thursday night showing her wearing a red dress with the phrase “Let’s go, Brandon” while posing next to former President Donald Trump.

The phrase has become a rallying cry for Republicans in recent weeks as a snub to Joe Biden and his administration.

“It’s not a phrase, it’s a movement,” Boebert wrote in the tweet.

Colorado ballot questions: State voters reject 3 questions on fiscal matters

Colorado voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to increase taxes on recreational marijuana to pay for out-of-school support services for students like tutoring and therapy.

Supporters of Proposition 119 admitted defeat at about 8:30 p.m. As of 10:20 p.m., the measure was failing with 54.37% rejecting the initiative and 45.63% in support with 1,087,157 ballots counted.

The mood at the Maven Hotel in downtown Denver, where about 50 supporters for Proposition 119 held the official Yes on 119 watch party, was hopeful around 7 p.m. as attendees sipped drinks and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres while watching early results trickle in. But the mood began to fade after 8 p.m. as the measure looked increasingly unlikely to succeed. Few supporters remained by 8:30 p.m.

Judy Solano, a Democratic former state representative and retired school teacher who helped lead the opposition, said she was “thrilled that the voters were smart enough to realize that creating a huge new bureaucracy to take care of one issue in education… would have been a very expensive and unnecessary thing to do.”

She thinks voters “saw through” supporters’ arguments and decided “we have to properly fund our schools before we do anything else.”

For more on this story from The Colorado Sun click here.

Proposition 120

An effort to reduce some property taxes in Colorado was failing by a wide margin Tuesday night in what would ultimately be a stinging defeat for conservatives who have increasingly turned to ballot measures to advance their policies as their candidates keep losing.

The vote for Proposition 120 as of 10:20 p.m. was 56.66% in opposition to the ballot measure and 43.34% in favor.

Proposition 120 would have reduce the property tax assessment rates for multifamily residential properties to 6.5% from 7.15% starting in 2022. It also would drop the rate for lodging properties to 26.4% from 29% under Proposition 120.

Proponents of the measure said a property tax reduction for multifamily housing could reduce rents and encourage investment to ease the state’s housing shortage. Lower property taxes for lodging properties may allow businesses to expand and hire more employees.

Opponents argued that slashing property taxes might result in cuts to government services, including for schools and fire departments that rely on property tax revenue to operate.

For more on this story from The Colorado Sun click here.

Amendment 78

A conservative-backed Colorado ballot measure seeking to give state lawmakers more oversight over how certain non-state funding sources are spent appeared headed for defeat Tuesday.

The vote for Amendment 78 as of 10:20 p.m. was 43.79% in favor and 56.21% against, according to 1 million ballots counted. The early results are incomplete, but the constitutional amendment would need approval from 55% of voters to pass.

The Colorado General Assembly has an appropriation process to decide how state tax revenue is spent each year, but certain non-state sources like federal grant money, private donations and other “custodial funds” from outside the state government aren’t subject to that process.

For example, the $1.7 billion in federal relief dollars that Colorado received last year from the CARES Act wasn’t subject to the legislative appropriation process. It was spent by Gov. Jared Polis’ office through an executive order, angering Republicans who complained they were left out of the decision making.

Proponents of the ballot measure say it would provide greater transparency and accountability to state spending by requiring lawmakers to determine how the state spends custodial money, which could affect federal emergency relief and grant dollars, money from legal settlements, funding for transportation projects that are currently allocated by an independent commission and private gifts and donations, like those collected by public colleges and universities.

For more on this story from The Colorado Sun click here.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Wolf reintroduction passes by slim margin as opposition concedes

DENVER — Colorado’s wildlife agency said Thursday it considers a ballot initiative to reintroduce the gray wolf into the state to have passed after a group that opposes the initiative conceded the race and the agency consulted with the office of Gov. Jared Polis.

An announcement by Colorado Parks and Wildlife that it would begin planning for an eventual restoration of wolves in the state came with the initiative leading — with thousands of ballots still uncounted — and after another group opposed to the initiative said it was not conceding.

Two opposition groups, Coloradans Protecting Wildlife and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, issued statements Thursday saying it appeared that the initiative would succeed.

CPW spokeswoman Rebecca Ferrell said the wildlife agency, which had assiduously avoided taking any position on the initiative, issued its statement after consulting with the governor’s office.

“We had been holding, but with the Coloradans Protecting Wildlife concession this afternoon, along with the deluge of requests for comment, the Governor’s Office decided it was prudent to move forward with the statement sent,” Ferrell said an an email.

An email and telephone call seeking comment late Thursday from Polis’ office weren’t immediately returned.

“Nothing is final until the Secretary of State certifies the election results, but at this time, we believe the measure will pass. So yes, this is a concession from our campaign,” said Patrick Pratt, deputy campaign manager for Coloradans Protecting Wildlife.

Janie VanWinkle, president of the cattlemen’s association, said the group “remains committed to ensuring real science” guides wildlife policy and wolf reintroduction.

Other groups opposing wolf reintroduction didn’t concede. A top opposition group, the Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition, said it was actively monitoring the vote count and will seek to fix any “no” votes rejected by elections officials because of signature discrepancies or other reasons, said Ted Harvey, campaign director for the Stop the Wolf PAC issue committee.

Colorado’s election results must be certified by Nov. 30. By late Thursday, the “yes” vote led the “no” vote by roughly 26,000 ballots out of more than 3 million counted — well above a threshold for triggering a mandatory recount.

Voters in metropolitan Denver and Boulder counties, who won’t be directly affected by any reintroduction, strongly supported the initiative, with rural voters casting ballots against it.

Supporters say it’s the first time that voters, rather than government scientists, are deciding whether to reintroduce the wolf, which once ranged across most of the U.S. before being hunted to near-extinction.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, which sponsored the initiative, said Thursday it believed the initiative had passed because votes yet to be counted in metropolitan areas east of the Divide would produce a formal “Yes” vote.

“This isn’t about the margin of victory,” said Rob Edward, head of the fund’s campaign. “Now it’s time to get on with the hard work of fashioning a future for the wolves that we coexist with.”

Proposition 114 would direct state wildlife officials to develop a plan to reintroduce wolves, once hunted into near-extinction, on public land west of the Continental Divide in Colorado before 2024. Ranchers, business chambers and rural governments strongly opposed the initiative, saying it would threaten livestock and Colorado’s lucrative hunting industry for elk and deer, key prey for the wolf.

Asked if any reintroduction process could trigger litigation, Pratt, of Coloradans Protecting Wildlife, said: “We have not ruled out any available options at this time.”

The gray wolf has been successfully restored in several U.S. states, including in Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park 25 years ago. Because of government-sponsored hunting, trapping and poisoning, the wolf disappeared in Colorado in the 1940s.

Proponents argue that reintroducing wolves would restore balance to an ecosystem severely altered in their absence by oversized big game herds.

About 6,000 gray wolves live in the Northern Rockies, the Pacific Northwest and the Western Great Lakes regions.

Pitkin County election results: Updated numbers from nearly 12k ballots

A look at the update numbers for Pitkin County only results as of Wednesday. Pitkin County Clerk & Record said there will not be another update until the finals numbers are sent to the state within eight days of the election.

There were 11,956 ballots cast of 13,774 active Pitkin County voters. For more information, go to pitkinvotes.com:

RACES

Federal

President

Joe Biden 8,906 (75.29%)

Donald Trump 2,739 (23.15%)

U.S. Senate

John Hickenlooper 8,688 (74.02%)

Cory Gardner 2,890 (24.62%)

U.S. House District 3

Diane Mitsch Bush 8,614 (73.71%)

Lauren Boebert 2,790 (23.87%)

State

School Board District 3

Mayling Simpson 7,953 (71.15%)

Joyce Rankin 3,225 (28.85%)

House District 61

Julie McCluskie 8,332 (73.93%)

Kim McGahey 2,938 (26.07%)

Pitkin County

Commissioner District 3

Greg Poschman 8,903 (100%)

(ran unopposed)

Commissioner District 4

Steve Child 7,459 (71.69%)

Chris Council 2,945 (28.31%)

Commissioner District 5

Francie Jacober 7,603 (72.42%)

Jeffrey Evans 2,895 (27.58%)

Snowmass Village

Mayor

Bill Madsen 898 (54.1%)

Tom Goode 762 (45.9%)

Council
(2 open seats)

Alyssa Shenk 1,104 (37.06%)

Tom Fridstein 608 (20.41%)

Jeff Kremer 511 (17.15%)

Matthew Owens 483 (16.21%)

Gary Warr 273 (9.16%)

Judges

Justice of Colorado Supreme Court

Melissa Hart

Yes 7,412

No 1,564

Justice of Colorado Supreme Court

Carlos A. Samour

Yes 7,211

No 1,633

Colorado Court of Appeals Judge

Ted C. Tow III

Yes 6,821

No 1,807

Colorado Court of Appeals Judge

Craig R. Welling

Yes 6,801

No 1,811

District Court Judge — 9th Judicial Court

Denise K. Lynch

Yes 7,379

No 1,412

LOCAL ISSUES

Snowmass Village Ballot Issue 2A
Extension of property tax for educational purposes

Yes 1,362 (76.95%)

No 408 (23.05%)

Aspen Ballot Issue 2B
Extension of existing 0.3% sales tax for educational purposes

Yes 3,647 (78.7%)

No 987 (21.3%)

Aspen School District Ballot Issue 4A
$94.3 million bond

Yes 6,333 (73%)

No 2,342 (27%)

Starwood Metropolitan District Ballot Issue 6A

Yes 45 (59.21%)

No 31 (40.79%)

Colorado River Water Conservation District Ballot Issue 7A
Property tax for to safeguard western Colorado water

Yes 8,940 (79.58%)

No 2,294 (20.42%)

Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 7B
Mill levy extension

Yes 477 (72.27%)

No 183 (27.73%)

STATE ISSUES

Amendment B
Repeal Property Tax Assessment Rates

Yes 8,204 (75.12%)

No 2,717 (24.88%)

Amendment C
Charitable Bingo and Raffles Amendment

Yes 5,241 (46.41%)

No 6,051 (53.59%)

Amendment 76
Citizen Requirement for Voting

Yes 5,241 (46.41%)

No 6,051 (53.59%)

Amendment 77
Local voter approval for gaming limits

Yes 7,442 (68.87%)

No 3,364 (31.13%)

Proposition EE
Tax on nicotine liquids

Yes 9,440 (82.87%)

No 1,951 (17.13%)

Proposition 113
National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

Yes 8,008 (70.94%)

No 3,281 (29.06%)

Proposition 114
Gray wolf reintroduction

Yes 6,909 (61.74%)

No 4,281 (38.26%)

Proposition 115
22-week abortion ban

Yes 2,444 (21.77%)

No 8,785 (78.23%)

Proposition 116
State income tax rate reduction

Yes 5,446 (48.29%)

No 5,832 (51.71%)

Proposition 117
Voter Approval Requirement for Creation of Certain Fee-Based Enterprises

Yes 4,117 (39.55%)

No 6,293 (60.45%)

Proposition 118
Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Yes 7,760 (69.89%)

No 3,343 (30.11%)

Hanlon concedes Senate District 8 race after margin moves to Rankin’s favor

The close race for Colorado Senate District 8 is decided, and incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Rankin has won formal election to the seat that he was appointed to fill last year.

His challenger, Democrat Karl Hanlon, called Rankin Thursday morning to formally concede and offer congratulations.

“I got into this race to bring a new voice to rural Colorado and fight for working families on issues that matter to them,” Hanlon said in a message posted to his campaign Facebook page. “I’m really proud of the work my team has done to get us this far and all the supporters throughout the district who believed in a vision of change.

“While I wish the outcome had been different, I remained heartened by the tens of thousands of voters in Senate District 8 who made their voices heard,” Hanlon concluded.

With ballots still being counted Wednesday and early Thursday in the seven counties that make up SD 8, Rankin’s lead grew past the margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.

Vote tallies reported by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, as of just before 9:30 a.m. Thursday, gave Rankin 50.59% of the vote to Hanlon’s 49.41%, with 986 votes separating the two.

As of the Thursday morning report, Rankin had a total of 42,128 votes to Hanlon’s 41,142.

“I’m very humbled after going through this campaign, and know you should never take for granted the opportunity to serve,” Rankin said Thursday of earning the voters’ nod to keep the senate seat.

“My main issues really had to do with the state of the economy because of the COVID impact, which is not good,” said Rankin, who serves as the senior member on the state Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. “There is a responsibility with that to help lead the discussion.”

Starting next week, the JBC will be having full-day meetings to start working on the budget and related bills. Rankin also applauded voter approval of Amendment B, repealing the Gallagher Amendment, which he said will go a long way to help with state education funding and help special districts maintain their tax bases.

That’s especially important for fire districts and the special Colorado Mountain College District, which stood to be severely impacted in coming years under Gallagher’s restrictions on maintaining residential property tax rates in Colorado.

Rankin said he also plans to introduce a new bill, titled Wildfire Mitigation, Detection and Suppression, which would dovetail with Gov. Jared Polis’s initiatives to better address wildfire protection in the state after a record wildfire season.

Recount averted

In close races, state law requires an automatic recount if the margin is within 0.5%. The margin between Rankin and Hanlon stands at 1.18% after the latest vote totals.

Senate District 8 includes Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties.

“We knew it was going to be close, especially with 40% unaffiliated voters now in the district,” Rankin said late Wednesday afternoon. “We knew we had to get some of those votes to win.”

Rankin congratulated Hanlon on a “hard-fought campaign,” but decried some of the outside negative advertising directed at him.

“Karl and I had a civil campaign, but there were a lot of negative mailers, and that could have made a difference,” Rankin said of the close election.

Hanlon had taken the early lead Tuesday night based on returns from the mountain resort areas, but the race narrowed as returns came in from the more-conservative western parts of the district.

“This is a district that is really focused on the issues, and is trying to find a way to the candidate who can represent them on the issues that are really important to people,” Hanlon said on election night.

“I had always said when we talked about this race during the campaign that it would come down to a couple hundred votes,” Hanlon added in a follow-up interview on Wednesday.

Returns had Hanlon, from Carbondale, winning in Routt and Summit counties, while Rankin had the edge in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Grand and Jackson counties.

Rankin, also from Carbondale, formerly served nine years in the state House of Representatives. He sought election to the SD 8 seat he was appointed to in January 2019, replacing disgraced former Sen. Randy Baumgardner who retired after sexual harassment allegations and a subsequent investigation.

Rankin defeated Debra Irvine of Breckenridge in the June Republican primary. He serves as the senior member of the Joint Budget Committee.

His wife, Joyce Rankin, won reelection Tuesday to the state Board of Education from Colorado’s Third District over Democrat Mayling Simpson of Steamboat Springs.

Hanlon is a municipal and special district government and water attorney, who currently serves as the contract city attorney for Glenwood Springs.

He and his wife, Sheryl Barto, run the Smiling Goat Ranch, which provides equine therapy services for autistic children and veterans with PTSD.

Hanlon ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2018, losing in the primary to Diane Mitsch Bush. He won this year’s primary for the state senate seat over Democrat Arn Menconi of Eagle.

jstroud@postindendent.com

“We knew it would be tight”: Colorado wolf reintroduction riding on razor-thin vote margin

The tightest statewide race of the 2020 election in Colorado was about wolves. 

As counties meticulously counted dense ballots on Wednesday, Proposition 114 remained close, hovering, at points, within hundreds of votes of an automatic recount. 

The measure that would task Colorado Parks and Wildlife with creating a gray wolf reintroduction plan by the end of 2023 was slightly ahead the day after the election. A gap of 7,600 votes early Wednesday grew to more than 10,000 votes by midday but then fell to 8,800 votes by afternoon. By late Wednesday, the gap reached almost 13,000 as more Front Range county votes were tallied.

Colorado law says a recount comes when the gap between the high vote and the low vote is equal to or less than 0.5% of the highest vote tally. Early Wednesday, as votes trickled in county-by-county, the recount target was as close as 700 votes and as far as 3,700 votes. 

“We knew it would be tight, based on our own polling,” said Terry Fankhauser, the executive vice-president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, an opponent of Proposition 114. “We knew there would be a handful of counties that would show favorable support and they are everywhere wolves won’t ever be.”

Read the full story via The Colorado Sun.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Colorado ballot measure roundup

There are 11 ballot measures for Colorado voters this year. Here is a roundup of reports from The Associated Press, The Denver Post and The Colorado Sun on where those issues stand as of 8 a.m. Wednesday:

AMENDMENT B

Colorado voters decided they would like to change the Gallagher Amendment and have said yes to changing the property tax assessment rates. 

The amendment to the Colorado constitution will repeal the requirement that the general assembly periodically change the residential assessment rate in order to maintain the statewide proportion of residential property as compared to all other taxable property valued for property tax purposes and repeal the nonresidential property tax assessment rate of 29 percent.

Voters were favoring the change 57.47% to 42.54% Wednesday morning. 

PROPOSITION 114

One of the close ballot questions was the proposition to reintroduce gray wolves to Colorado. The proposition was leaning toward passing, but by barely 1 percentage point. The proposition was leading 50.17% to 49.83%.

The proposition was failing in most of the counties in western Colorado except for Pitkin (62% yes) and Summit (54.3% yes) counties. Counties on the northern Front Range pushed it on the yes vote as well.

If passed, the reintroduction would be on designated lands in Colorado located west of the Continental Divide and require the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission, after holding statewide hearings and using scientific data, to implement a plan to restore and manage gray wolves. It would prohibit CPW from imposing any land, water, or resource use restrictions on private landowners to further the plan and requiring CPW to fairly compensate owners for losses of livestock caused by gray wolves.

Click here to read more about this tight ballot race.

AMENDMENT C

The amendment to have charitable gaming licenses obtained after three years, not five years, was in jeopardy of not passing. While the yes votes were ahead 51.72% to 48.28%, it is one of the questions that must have a 55% majority to pass.

AMENDMENT 76

The amendment, which states only U.S. citizens over 18 may vote, is up by about 24% of votes in Colorado.

At 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, 62.65% of votes tallied were in favor of the amendment, compared with 37.35% against. About 79% of votes in the race had been tallied.

Federal and state law already dictate that only citizens may vote in federal and state elections, but the amendment would ensure that cities can’t allow non-citizens to vote in local contests.

In addition, it could roll back efforts to expand voting to those younger than 18. Since 2019, 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the time a general election is held in November have been allowed to vote in party primaries ahead of that general election in Colorado. A bill in the most recent legislative session also would have allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in school board races, but it never got to the floor.

It’s not clear if the amendment would override local control in cities with home rule.

AMENDMENT 77

It looks like the voters in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City will be able set the single-bet limits and the games that can be played at Colorado casinos.

The amendment, which went to state voters, was ahead nearly 59.77% to 40.23%.

PROPOSITION EE

Colorado voters overwhelmingly are in favor of a tax on smoking and vaping products for education and health programs. The state sales tax will collect up to $294 million annually, and it was leading 68.08% to 31.92%. 

PROPOSITION 113

A ballot measure that would enter Colorado into a pact with 14 other states and Washington, D.C., to assign the state’s Electoral College votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote for president was leading Wednesday but the margin tightened as votes were counted.

With 79% of the vote tallied, Proposition 113 was leading with 52.39% support.

State lawmakers passed a bill in 2019 putting Colorado in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, but that decision was challenged by a citizen initiative that put the final decision in voters’ hands this fall. A “yes” vote on Proposition 113 keeps the state in the compact while a “no” vote maintains the system Colorado has used for decades to choose a president: The candidate with the most statewide support receives all of Colorado’s electoral votes.

Colorado currently has nine electoral votes but is likely to pick up at least one more once the 2020 Census is complete.

PROPOSITION 115

A measure that would ban abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, failed. 

Both supporters and opponents of Proposition 115 had predicted a tight battle over what supporters of the ban call “late-term abortion,” but opponents declared victory about an hour after the polls closed.

“We voted no because we trust patients and families to make the personal medical decisions that are right for them, without political interference,” Vote No on 115 campaign manager Lucy Olena told the Colorado Sun. “We voted no to keep Colorado a safe haven for abortion access because no one should have to cross borders to get the medical care they need.”

The measure went down 40.93% to 59.07%, according to unofficial returns but with about 79% of the vote tallied.

Coloradans have swiftly defeated three other ballot measures since 2008 that attempted to define a fetus as a person under the criminal code, but this question is different, targeting the point in pregnancy at which a fetus might survive outside the womb. 

Click here to read the full story about Proposition 115 getting voted down.

PROPOSITION 116

Coloradans are in favor of reducing the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%. In the results updated Wednesday morning, the proposition was leading 56.99% to 43.01%.

PROPOSITION 117

The proposition, which is a voter approval requirement for creation of certain fee-based enterprises, looked like it was on its way to passing. It was ahead 52% to 48%.

This would add a new TABOR-like provision to state law, requiring the state government to get voter permission before it creates major new “enterprises,” which are partially funded by fees.

PROPOSITION 118

Voters appeared to accomplish Tuesday what Colorado Democrats could not for the past six years at the state legislature: a statewide paid-leave program for workers who want time off to have a baby or care for a sick loved one.

The ballot measure was passing 58.1% to 42.9% according to early unofficial returns and 75% of votes tallied. In an update on Wednesday, the measure was passing 57% to 43% with almost 79% of votes tallied. It requires workers and employers to pay into an insurance pool run by the Colorado Department of Labor. Beginning in 2024, workers could apply to the fund to receive pay during time off from work, up to $1,100 per week. 

The program is for all workers, including state employees, people who are self-employed, and even gig workers who drive for Uber or food-delivery companies. Workers are eligible after they’ve earned $2,500 at their job. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees can choose not to participate and companies that already offer comparable paid time off for new babies or illnesses are exempt. 

Proposition 118 creates a $1.3 billion program that was hammered by opponents as a tax increase for employers and employees at a time when businesses are struggling. For supporters, though, the message was that there is no time like a pandemic to build a culture where employees get paid time off to care for someone who is ill.

Funding for the insurance pool is a 50-50 split between employee and employer, who each would contribute 0.45% of an employee’s wages.