Colorado to decide gubernatorial, House races | AspenTimes.com

Colorado to decide gubernatorial, House races

The Associated Press

Stuart Clubb, ballot operations coordinator for the Denver Elections Division, loads ballots into a machine for tallying at elections headquarters in Denver on Oct. 31.

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Election Day ticket includes votes for governor, seven U.S. House races and 13 statewide ballot questions.

There also are races for attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state and 82 legislative seats.

There are ballot measures on where oil and gas wells can be drilled and raising income tax to fund public education. One transportation measure would issue bonds to pay for repairs to crumbling roads and build new highway infrastructure.

A second would raise taxes for state and local roads projects, for local public transit and projects such as sidewalks and bike paths.

A look at the top races:

GOVERNOR

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Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton are vying to succeed Colorado’s term-limited Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper.

Polis vows to strengthen the Barack Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Stapleton wants more market-driven health insurance coverage.

Stapleton defends Colorado’s strict limits on taxes and spending and argues Polis is promising increased school investment without a clear plan to pay for it.

Polis says long-term solutions on public schools and other needs will require “coalitions” of lawmakers, business and other groups to fix those fiscal limits.

U.S. HOUSE

The most competitive race pits Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman against first-time Democratic candidate Jason Crow, an attorney and a former Army ranger. Coffman, an Army and Marine veteran, has defeated a succession of challengers in a district that’s trended Democratic and is seeking his sixth term.

Crow has argued that Coffman could no longer check the national Republican Party on health care and guns. And Coffman lost crucial national funding in the campaign’s waning weeks. National Republicans pulled funding to focus on races where they saw better chances of winning

Party control of Colorado’s six other congressional districts — three Republican, three Democrat — isn’t expected to change. Democrat Joe Neguse is favored to win the 2nd Congressional District being vacated by Polis.

LEGISLATURE

Republicans are fighting to keep control of the state Senate, where they have 18 seats. Democrats have 16 and an independent has one.

Democrats have a strong majority in the state House, and Tuesday’s election isn’t expected to change that.

Seventeen of 35 Senate seats and all 65 House seats are up for election.

BALLOT MEASURES

Colorado voters will decide 13 statewide ballot measures — in addition to any local ones, such as whether the City of Lakewood can keep tax dollars it otherwise would be forced to refund under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

One statewide measure would severely restrict where new oil and gas wells can be drilled. Another would raise income tax rates to fund public education. Two competing measures address transportation. One would authorize $3.5 billion in bonds for state road and bridge construction and repairs; the bonds would be repaid from the general fund budget. The other would raise taxes to borrow $6 billion for state and local roads construction, municipal public transit and local improvements to sidewalks and bike paths. Two complementary measures would create nonpartisan redistricting for Congress and the state Legislature.

An initiative asked Coloradans to lower the age requirement to serve in the Legislature from 25 to 21.

Voters also were being asked to eliminate an archaic reference to slavery as a punishment for a crime in the state Constitution. Adopted shortly before Colorado became a state in 1876, the constitution declares: “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime.”

A similar Colorado ballot question in 2016 failed. Analysts blamed confusing ballot language.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Republican George Brauchler faces Democrat Phil Weiser to succeed Cynthia Coffman as Colorado attorney general. Brauchler is a district attorney in suburban Denver best known for prosecuting James Holmes, who killed 12 people and wounded 70 in an attack at an Aurora movie theater in 2012. Holmes was sentenced to life in prison in 2015. Weiser served in the U.S. Justice Department under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and is a former University of Colorado Law School dean.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Republican Wayne Williams is seeking a second term in his race against Democratic attorney Jena Griswold. Under Williams, the office has streamlined all-mail balloting and adopted elections security measures lauded as among the nation’s toughest by the Department of Homeland Security. Griswold criticized Williams for sending the state’s voter registration database to a voter fraud panel commissioned by President Donald Trump. Williams responded that anyone can get the database because it’s public record.

TREASURER

Democratic state Rep. Dave Young and Republican entrepreneur Brian Watson want to succeed Walker Stapleton as treasurer. Young, a Weld County Democrat, cites his experience on the Legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee, which crafts the annual state budget. Watson trumpets his know-how as a commercial real estate investor.

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