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State lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday for a special session to work on bills tied to COVID-19. State Majority Leader Democrat Steve Fenberg and Senate President Democrat Leroy Garcia chat while the senate is in recess during a special session on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information that shakes up who's likely to be at the top of the race to become Senate President. 

Senate Democrats are poised to settle the Capitol intrigue over who will succeed Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, and potentially fill other leadership positions when they meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Garcia triggered the leadership upheaval last week when he announced he would step down on Feb. 23 to take a position with the U.S. Department of Defense in Washington, D.C.

Whomever takes on the top leadership role – and anyone else who changes titles – would hold those positions for the rest of the year, but the November 2022 general election will decide what happens after that. With a 20-15 Democratic advantage, Republicans would have to take three seats and not lose any of the ones they currently hold to take control of the Senate.

A logical successor, given his seniority, is Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, the current majority leader, according to a source close to the majority. 

Another candidate for Wednesday's Democratic leadership election is Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, currently the Senate President Pro tem. Donovan has made no secret of the fact that she wants to be the next Senate President.

Should Fenberg win, that will set off a chain reaction at the majority leader position. 

The leading candidate appears to be Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City. If Moreno vies for the post and gets it, he would step down from the Joint Budget Committee, where he serves as vice-chair, midway through the process of the committee's work on the 2022-23 budget.

The question then becomes who replaces him on JBC. Here are the options, and some of it could rely on the fractious Senate Democratic women's caucus coalescing around one candidate: 

Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, who's got quality time on the JBC bench, as she served on the committee from 2017-2020. It also would solve the problem of the big learning curve a new member would need to get up to speed on the state budget process.

Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, who chairs the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, has also been mentioned for JBC. Gonzales also chairs the Senate Democratic caucus, which means she'll be running Wednesday's election. She's the vice-chair of the Affordable Housing Task Force, which was tasked with coming up with recommendations on how to spend $400 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act money on housing, a topic near and dear to her heart. She told Colorado Politics she doesn't have to be at the top in leadership in order to achieve the policy goals she has set. 

Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, also is apparently interested in serving on the JBC. 

Regardless of who sits in the president's seat for the rest of the 2022 session, who runs the chamber in 2023 will depend on the results of the November elections.  

Republicans believe they have a chance of taking control, with seats in at least six senate district seats in play, including Garcia's Senate District 3, and Senate District 4, currently represented by Sen. Tammy Story, D-Evergreen. Story's district was redrawn into a safe Republican seat by the redistricting commission. She's now running for the House instead.

Other GOP targets are Senate District 8, an open seat being sought by Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle, which could also be a pickup opportunity for Republicans; Senate District 20, currently held by Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, also an open seat; Senate District 24, an open seat due to redistricting in the north Denver suburbs; and, Senate District 27, an open seat in Centennial. While redistricting numbers show a slight or better Democratic lean in all of those seats, the numbers are based on the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections, which were all favorable to Democrats because of Colorado voters' view of Donald Trump. 

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