In a year unlike any other, with a truncated General Assembly session, a pandemic, a budget crisis and weeks of protests over racial equality, the 2020 primary season will fit right in.
It’s all about the money. Independent expenditure committees usually wait until after the primary to place their bets, but in 2020, they’re betting early and often.
Some two dozen independent committees have so far spent more than $3.1 million, mostly in favor of moderate Republicans.
Moderate Republicans appeared to win the night in both Jefferson and Weld counties, turning back challenges from more conservative candidates.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES, HOUSE
Justin Everett versus Rep. Colin Larson, House District 22: south Jefferson County, including Columbine and Ken Caryl
In House District 22, as of 9 p.m. Larson is the likely winner in this race with a 12% lead over Everett. That’s with 92% of the ballots counted, according to the Jefferson County elections department.
Larson said Tuesday night that he’s “excited for the people of HD22 It’s nice to be returned with a mandate that they like the representation they’ve been getting. This is an affirmation of the direction we’re moving in. I look forward to winning in November.”
Everett did not return a call for comment.
Everett, the three-time lawmaker dubbed “Dr. No,” was the challenger in this race versus first-term Larson. Everett is the more conservative of the two and has been on the attack against Larson, with mailers blasting Larson’s votes on LGBTQ issues, for example.
Larson eked out a 139-vote win over Frank Francone in the 2018 primary and went on to win the general election by 7 percentage points.
Candidate money: as of June 10, Larson leads, with $30,360, including more than $12,000 left over from the 2018 campaign. He’s also loaned his campaign $3,691.
Everett, as of June 10, had raised $16,987 in cash and non-cash donations. In the past week, he loaned his campaign $9,486.
Outside dollars overwhelmingly favor Larson. Four different independent expenditure committees (Assuring Quality Healthcare Access, Better Jobs Coalition, Coloradans for Constitutional Values and Friends for the Future) have spent $372,728 on support for Larson or to oppose Everett.
Three IECs (CFV Victory Fund, Make Liberty Win and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners) have put a total of $26,685.42 into support for Everett or to oppose Larson.
Colorado Family Values (CFV) lists Rep. Stephen Humphrey of Ault as its filing agent. A new mailer from CFV attacks Larson for his voting record in favor of LGBTQ issues. Humphrey unsuccesfully ran anti-LGBTQ bills throughout his time in the Colorado House.
WELD COUNTY REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES
It’s been a wild ride this campaign season in Weld County, with an open Senate seat and three open House seats, all held by term-limited Republicans. The winner in these primaries is the hands-on favorite to win in November. But which Republicans?
Patricia Miller versus Dan Woog, House District 63
According to unofficial election results at 10:30 p.m., Woog led Miller by more than 25% of the vote.
“I feel very good about it. I think those results show that my message was heard and people got behind me and got behind my message,” Woog said.
Woog added that his experience and his voting record helped get him support from voters, and he is preparing himself for the hard work that will come in his November run.
The winner will face Democrat Gen Schneider in November and will succeed Rep. Lori Saine of Dacono, who’s running for Weld County Commissioner.
Woog has raised $25,866 as of June 24 and loaned his campaign $8,000. Miller lags, with $17,190 raised plus a $2,000 loan.
The same independent expenditure committees backing Larson are supporting Woog.
Graydon Nouis versus Tonya Van Beber, House District 48.
According to unofficial election results at 11 p.m., Van Beber was leading Nouis 56.5% to 43.5%.
Van Beber also has the support of the same IECs in this race to determine who succeeds Humphrey. She’s raised $23,184 as of June 10 and added $15,900 in loans to her campaign.
Nouis has raised $15,821, plus support from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners IEC.
The winner will face Democrat Holly A. Herson in November.
Michael Lynch versus Sen. Vicki Marble, House District 49
According to unofficial election results at 11 p.m., Lynch was headed for a decisive win over Marble, handily beating the term-limited state senator by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
Lynch would hope to succeed Rep. Perry Buck, who is also term-limited and running for Weld County Commissioner.
This race, in terms of candidate fundraising, was a lot closer.
Lynch has raised $14,174 and loaned his campaign $5,000. Marble raised $10,337 and loaned her campaign $8,119.
But outside money from the same IECS backing Larson, Van Beber, also are in Lynch’s column, giving him the financial edge.
The winner will face Democrat Yara Hanlin Zokaie in November.
Barbara Kirkmeyer versus Rupert Parchment, Senate District 23
According to unofficial election results at 11 p.m., Kirkmeyer was leading Parchment by nearly 3,000 votes.
This is the contest to determine who succeeds Marble in the state Senate.
Kirkmeyer said that she is feeling grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to represent Republicans in the coming general election.
“I think it was a solid, clean campaign that I ran. I worked really hard to do my fundraising so I could carry out my plan,” Kirkmeyer said
She added that she is feeling confident about her fall campaign.
“I think this is a predominately Republican seat and I think we are going to be able to keep this seat red. I think having the majority of the vote in Weld county is good for me,” Kirkmeyer said.
Parchment has raised $24,633 as of June 24, and was backed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
Kirkmeyer has taken in $66,007 and is backed by some of the same IECs as Larson, Van Beber, Woog and Lynch.
The winner likely will face Democrat Sally Boccella, who was leading the primary race over Galina Nicoll by a 12-percentage-point margin.
OTHER HOUSE RACES AROUND THE STATE
Stephanie Luck versus Ron Parker, House District 47 (Pueblo, Otero and Fremont counties)
In 2018, Democratic Rep. Bri Buentello held off a strong challenge from Republican Don Bendell. Buentello won the seat by just 321 votes, the tightest margin of victory in the 2018 general election for a statehouse race.
This House seat flips between parties more than most. It was held by Republicans from 2010 to 2018 and by a Democrat for eight years before that.
The Republican primary, as of 10 p.m., is a nail-biter although Luck is now widening her lead. That margin comes from Fremont County, where Luck drew 548 more votes than Parker. That so far has carried Luck. She now leads the race by 298 votes.
Parker has raised $5,111 as of June 24. Luck reports raising $11,045 as of June 15. They’ll have an uphill climb on the money side since Buentello’s war chest has more than $80,000 at the ready.
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES, HOUSE
Rep. Steven Woodrow, Steven Paletz and Dan Himelspach, House District 6, Denver
According to unofficial election results as of 9 p.m, Woodrow led Paletz and Himelspach by a 15% margin for Paletz and a 22% margin for Himelspach.
Woodrow has already received a call from Steven Paletz, conceding the race. “We’re excited about the results,” Woodrow said, thanking his team for an amazing job. “They crushed this race” from day one until the results came in. “We ran a grassroots campaign against big money, and showed that cable TV ads don’t work in Denver. What works is community building and boots on the ground. I”m excited to get back to work with my colleagues” in the House.
Woodrow is the incumbent but only in the strictest sense; he was appointed by a vacancy committee in February to succeed Chris Hansen, who went to the Senate to replace Lois Court.
Independent expenditure committees are staying out of this one, so it’s up to the candidates on the fundraising, and that favors Paletz. He’s raised $65,2631 but added an $80,000 loan two weeks ago.
Woodrow comes in second, with $117,740 as of June 24. Himelsbach added a $30,000 loan to his campaign coffers, and as of June 10 had raised an additional $55,625.
Candice Ferguson versus David Ortiz, House District 38, Arapahoe County,
You’re forgiven if you hadn’t thought of this one. The winner takes on Republican Rep. Richard Champion of Columbine Valley, who was appointed to his seat in February, succeeding Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton, who resigned to work for the Trump administration.
According to unofficial election results just after 11 p.m., Ortiz led Ferguson by a 2:1 margin.
Ortiz said that he is humbled and proud of his team that helped lead him to this victory. He added that he feels his life story helped connect him to his voters.
“I come from a family of sharecroppers and ranchers and migrants and now I have the opportunity and the privilege to represent the people of HD38,” Ortiz said.
He added that he will be going to treat the general election the same way he treated the primary.
“I am going to work my paralyzed butt off and leave it all out there on the field so no matter how it turns out I will be proud of the team, I will be proud of the community, I will be proud of my work,” Ortiz said.
Beckman beat Democrat Chris Kolker by just 374 votes in 2018, or less than one percentage point.
The money side favors Ortiz in Tuesday’s primary. He’s raised $68,475 to Ferguson’s $12,792.
Naquetta Ricks versus John Ronquillo, House District 40, Aurora.
According to unofficial election results at 11 p.m., Ronquillo was leading Ricks by a razor-thin margin of 47 votes.
This contest is likely to determine who succeeds Rep. Janet Buckner, who’s running for the state Senate.
Ronquillo said that, while looking at a tight lead over Ricks that he said is “too close for comfort,” he is feeling good that he will maintain the lead.
“But we will ride it out and make sure every vote is counted,” Ronquillo said.
Ronquillo added that while he thinks he is going to pull through, if he is overtaken in votes he will be happy to support his opponent.
Ricks could not be reached for comment at time of reporting.
Ricks has raised $12,056, including a loan of $1,100 as of June 10. Ronquillo leads, with $21,650 raised.
Independent expenditure committees have weighed in on this race, with Ronquillo the beneficiary.
Matthew Martinez versus Rep. Don Valdez, House District 62, San Luis Valley
While some of Valdez’ Democratic colleagues in the House backed the challenger, as of 9 p.m. Valdez holds a commanding 59% to 40% lead.
Valdez won big in Alamosa County and early returns showed he also won in Rio Grande County, which is where Martinez lives. Valdez appears to have won Pueblo County, the district’s most populous, by a margin of 109 votes.
Outside money in this race favored Martinez, with support from groups such as COBALT and Planned Parenthood. Martinez was the only candidate that Planned Parenthood’s independent expenditure committee spent money on in the June primary.
Martinez has raised $6,875 as of June 10 to Valdez’ $15,590, which included more than $12,000 left over from 2018.
In a statement to Colorado Politics, Valdez said he is "truly humbled," and thanked everyone who supported him for re-election, especially family, friends, and all the campaign volunteers who helped get out the vote.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES, SENATE
Debra Irvine versus Sen. Bob Rankin, Senate District 8 (northwestern Colorado)
As of 10 p.m., Rankin had won decisively over Irvine by a margin of more than 26% of the vote.
“I had a lot of support, and thank my supporters” and voters, Rankin said. “They knew I was working in Denver and couldn’t campaign personally because of the virus. People took that into account, understood my positions and what I stand for.”
Rankin said he has “unfinished business” and is ready to go back to work to help the state recover. “I’m looking forward to helping small business recover and get back to work.”
Rankin’s victory came early. He won by a nearly 3:1 margin in his home county, Garfield, the most populous in the district, and that led him through the night.
Rankin was appointed to his Senate seat in 2019 after Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs resigned, in part due to the sexual harassment allegations against him.
Rankin has out-raised Irvine, a Breckinridge ski instructor, by $61,445 to $8,350 for Irvine, which includes a $2,000 loan.
Independent expenditure committees have targeted this race, with more than $134,000 spent to support Rankin.
Rankin will face the winner of the Democratic primary between Karl Hanlon and Arn Menconi As of 10 p.m., Menconi held a 106-vote lead.
While the seat is considered safe for Republicans, It’s worth noting that both races drew more than 17,000 votes each, with the Rankin/Irvine contest drawing just 46 more votes than the Hanlon/Menconi race, as of 10 p.m.
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES, SENATE
Sen. Chris Hansen versus Maria Orms, Senate District 31, Denver
According to unofficial election results at 10:30 p.m. Hansen led Orms 55% to 45%.
Hansen built up a strong lead in Denver County, where the majority of district voters live.
Hansen said that his lead was due to his stances on topics at heart to the voters of the district, including climate change and carbon emissions.
“I think those were important to my campaign and things voters responded to,” Hansen said.
Hansen spent three years in the House before getting tapped to replace Court, who resigned due to illness in January. He’s raised $83,954 as of June 10 to Orms’ $45,825, with nearly half coming in non-cash contributions.
The independent spending committees have also spent heavily to support Hansen.
The winner will face Republican Doug Townsend in the fall.