Colorado Democrats ‘feel very good’ about keeping House majority

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(Photo:CPR/Pat Mack)
<p>Colorado state Capitol building</p>
Photo: Colorado state Capitol building Sept 2014 d
Colorado's capitol in downtown Denver.

Colorado Democrats believe they have managed to retain control of the state House, although it’s still unclear how wide a margin they’ll have.

House Republicans however, believe a crucial race could still turn in their favor, giving them a slim majority.

Control of the state Senate still hangs on one undecided race in Adams County, where officials still have to count more than 10,000 ballots.

Going into Thursday there were still six undecided House seats, enough to tilt the balance of power in the chamber. But by noon, Democrats were confident enough of their lead in two of those races to declare victory.

"With the information we have, we feel very good about keeping a Democratic House majority," Ferrandino said at a press conference Thursday.

The two races Democrats believe they’ve won are Aurora-based House District 36, where incumbent Su Ryden leads her Republican opponent by 2.6 percent, and House District 3 south of Denver, where Rep. Daniel Kagan is 416 votes ahead of his challenger.

Assistant Minority Leader Libby Szabo agrees Ryden has likely one reelection. But in the crucial House District 3 race, the Arvada Republican says both parties should wait until there's a clear final result.

"If all the ballots aren't counted yet, it's a bit presumptuous to say, 'we have it,'" said Szabo.

Republicans do appear to have ousted two other Democratic representatives. In southwestern Colorado’s House District 59, J. Paul Brown is claiming a narrow victory over incumbent Mike McLachlan. And Kit Roupe appears to have edged out Democrat Tony Exum in House District 17 in Colorado Springs.

Two Democratic seats in Adams County still remain in doubt. As of Thursday after, the latest results show Republican JoAnn Windholz up 2.18 percent, or 347 votes, over incumbent Jenise May in House District 30. In neighboring HD 31, Carol Beckler’s lead over Joe Salazar had shrunk to a hair's-breadth, to 5 votes, well below the threshold that would trigger an automatic recount.

Going into the election, neither party appeared to believe May and Salazar’s seats were in play.

"Adams County was more of a surprise,” Ferrandino said Thursday. “No one thought those races were competitive."

Whether or not House Democrats end up losing those two seats, this election cost them severely. They went into Tuesday night with a nine-vote majority. Next year, the best the Democratic caucus can hope for is a three-seat advantage.