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ENDORSEMENT WATCH | Business, LGBTQ groups bestow bipartisan backing on lawmakers

Author: Ernest Luning - September 6, 2018 - Updated: September 24, 2018

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billThe Colorado Capitol is pictured on a sunny day in this file photo. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Two of Colorado’s most prominent political committees — One Colorado PAC, which advocates for LGBTQ residents, and NFIB Colorado PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest small business organization — announced a slew of legislative endorsements last week, with both groups crossing party lines in an instance or two.

One Colorado executive director Daniel Ramos said in a release that the organization was following up its previously announced support for Democrat Jared Polis in the gubernatorial race by endorsing enough lawmakers to put legislation on his desk, if he prevails in November over Republican Walker Stapleton.

“Our bipartisan slate of 62 endorsements is made up of Coloradans who have shown that, if elected, they will be pro-equality champions in the Colorado legislature who will work to make Colorado a more fair and just state,” Ramos said.

The group covered its bases in two races, endorsing both the incumbent and the challenger — Republican state Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and her Democratic challenger in Senate District 24, state Rep. Faith Winter; as well as Democrat state Rep. Tony Exum and former state Rep. Kit Roupe, the Republican who represented House District 17 before Exum unseated her two years ago.

State Sen. Don Coram, a Montrose Republican, was the only other GOP candidate to win One Colorado’s endorsement. The endorsed Democratic state senate candidates are: state Sens. Leroy Garcia and Kerry Donovan; state Reps. Pete Lee, Jessie Danielson and Brittany Pettersen, who are all seeking a seat in the upper chamber; and Tammy Story, Robert Rodriguez and Julie Gonzales.

The other House candidates backed by One Colorado, all Democrats, are incumbent state Reps. Susan Lontine, Alec Garnett, Jeff Bridges, Chris Hansen, James Coleman, Leslie Herod, Edie Hooten, Jonathan Singer, KC Becker, Chris Kennedy, Dylan Roberts, Tracy Kraft-Tharp, Dafna Michaelson-Jenet, Adrienne Benavidez, Matt Gray, Mike Weissman, Janet Buckner, Jovan Melton, Dominique Jackson, Daneya Esgar, Joann Ginal, Jeni Arndt, Barbara McLachlan and Don Valdez.

The group also endorsed non incumbent Democratic House candidates Serena Gonzales-Gutirrez, Alex Valdez, Emily Sirota, Sonya Jaquez Lewis, Marc Snyder, Monica Duran, Brianna Titone, Kerry Tipper, Yadira Caraveo, Kyle Mullica, Shannon Bird, Tom Sullivan, Bri Buentello, Rochelle Galindo and Julie McClusky.

• NFIB Colorado PAC picked 43 legislative candidates — all but one a Republican — with incumbents winning support based solely on their voting records on nine bills heard during the current term.

“A legislator’s voting record on small-business issues is nothing he or she can hide from or dispute, so when we endorse a representative or senator, it’s because they are proven friends of Main Street enterprises based on the one measurement that matters most,” said Tony Gagliardi, the group’s state director.

“With candidates running in open seats or challenging an incumbent, our PAC takes extra time and care to vet the people who will be sincerely with us from the ones who will tell us anything.” (He noted that several candidates appointed mid-term by vacancy committees were chosen based on their response to a questionnaire, not their voting records.)

The Democrat who won support from NFIB Colorado is House District 47 candidate Bri Buentello, who is seeking an open seat near Pueblo that has been held by Republicans.

GOP Senate candidates endorsed by the business group are state Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg, Don Coram, Ray Scott, John Cooke, Tim Neville, Beth Martinez Humenik and Chris Holbert. State Rep. Paul Lundeen got the NFIB’s nod in his bid to move up a chamber, as did non-incumbent Senate candidates Dennis Hisey, Olen Lund, Patrick McIntire, Rob Woodward, Christine Jensen and Tony Sanchez.

NFIB threw its support behind the following Republican House members seeking another term: state Reps. Shane Sandridge, Dave Williams, Larry Liston, Terri Carver, Alexander ‘Skinny’ Winkler, Cole Wist, Susan Beckman, Kevin Van Winkle, Kim Ransom, Patrick Neville, Stephen Humphrey, Perry Buck, Hugh McKean, Bob Rankin, Marc Catlin, James Wilson and Lori Saine. Former state Rep. Kit Roupe, who wants her seat back, also won the group’s support.

Non-incumbents winning NFIB’s backing for House seats are Republicans Tim Geitner, Colin Larson, Steve Szutenbach, Vicki Pyne, Kristina Joy Alley, Richard Bowman, Michael Thuener, Matt Soper, Rod Bockenfeld and Rod Pelton.

Here are some of the other recently announced Colorado candidate endorsements:

• Students for Education Reform Action Network endorsed Democrat Jared Polis following a forum for gubernatorial candidates devoted to school policy. (Republican Walker Stapleton didn’t participate, the group said in a release.)

Students involved in the endorsement said they were impressed with the former member of the state board of education’s plans to make the education system more equitable, as well as his experience founding and serving as superintendent of New America School.

“As students who want to continue living and investing in this state, we’re happy to endorse Jared Polis and his vision for a progressive Colorado that invests in innovative ideas and equitable opportunities for all Coloradans,” said Simon Sealey, an SFER Action Network student leader, in a statement. “We’re not impressed by the tired politics of cynicism and fear mongering that pits neighbor against neighbor that we’ve seen from Trump-like candidates this election season. Our diversity is our strength and we know an agenda that fights for equitable schools and economic equality unities Coloradans of all backgrounds. Jared Polis will be a champion for all Coloradans, especially for those who have been left behind and historically underserved in this country.”

• NARAL Pro-Choice America, an organization supporting abortion rights, and the Progressive Turnout Project endorsed Stephany Rose Spaulding, the Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the 5th Congressional District.

“While Republican Doug Lamborn has focused on how to enrich himself, Stephany has focused on healthcare for all, the clean energy economy, and bringing good jobs with fair pay to Colorado,” said a spokesperson for the Progressive Turnout Project, a liberal organization that plan to spend nearly $20 million encouraging voters nationwide to turn in ballots in 73 congressional races.

• Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper threw his support behind fellow Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, the former legislator challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the 3rd Congressional District.

“I worked closely with Diane during her time in the Colorado Legislature,” Hickenlooper said in a statement, adding that Mitsch Bush “is both hard-working and dedicated to her community. Diane’s experience and fact-based legislating would make her a strong voice for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.”

• U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner endorsed fellow Republican Chance Hill, the attorney and former CIA agent running for the University of Colorado Board of Regents from the 5th Congressional District.

“When I consider whom to support for the important job of leading our University of Colorado system, I want someone who is hardworking, capable, and passionate in recognizing the significant role that the CU system plays in our state’s economy,” Gardner said in a statement.

.Hill is running against Democrat Tony Wolusky for the open seat.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.