Noonan: Final results show election angst on both sides turns into not much in Colorado
Author: Paula Noonan - December 5, 2016 - Updated: December 4, 2016
In the grand total of many things political, Democrats did well in Colorado in 2016, going against the fly-over state trend. Even so, at the state level, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Statewide, unaffiliated voters broke toward Democrats at about 4.5 percent. With party registrations in November at almost even between Democrats and Republicans, both parties needed unaffiliated voters to give them more votes, and Democrats won that battle decisively.
Congressional race results show that nothing is going to change in those seats — unless incumbents retire — until redistricting in 2021.
Democrats in the state House of Representatives pounded Republicans. In most contested seats, Democrats won well above their percentage of registered voters. Rep. Diane Mitsch-Bush punched 18.5 percent of votes by registration above her diminutive size. Tammy Story, who lost the House District 25 race, made that contest much closer than expected, showing how Democrats are gradually taking control of Jefferson County.
The state Senate story continues to show how Adams County is changing, and the results follow the same candidate, former state Rep. Jenise May. In 2014, May lost HD30 to JoAnn Windholz, a right-right Republican. This year, May lost her race for SD25 to Republican state Rep. Kevin Priola, with Priola gaining 11 percent more votes than registration breakdown predicts.
The Windholz race for HD30 went to the Democrats as Dafna Michaelson Jenet won, but she didn’t win by the Democratic share of registered voters. Parts of Adams County may parallel the economic environment of the Midwest with some blue-collar Democrats switching their votes without switching their registration.
Pueblo County is another fly over state trend follower. Clinton lost Pueblo by 0.5 percent, significantly underperforming U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who won by 9.5 percent. Rep. Clarice Navarro on the east side of Pueblo County hit very high approval numbers. Her district has grown in Republican registration since she was elected and she won by 15.5 percent.
Some districts just can’t make up their minds whom they want for legislator. In 2014, former state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger lost SD19 to state Sen. Laura Woods. This year she recaptured the seat. SD19 has had three state senators since 2013 when Evie Hudak resigned under pressure from the Second Amendment voters in the district.
HD59 in Durango is an ancient Greek dramedy with the seat bouncing back and forth between Rep. J. Paul Brown (R-Ignacio) and the Democratic Party McLachlan family. Paul had the seat in 2010. He lost it to former Rep. Mike McLachlan in 2012 by a quarter-inch. McLachlan lost to Paul in 2014 by a quarter-inch. Now Paul lost the seat again, this time to Barbara McLachlan, Mike McLachlan’s wife. She won by a 1.46 percent victory.
North Jeffco is a microcosm for the nation. Woods and Zenzinger hold opposite views on many issues, including gun control, public education policy and health care. Their campaign wasn’t pretty. That district has gone through maximum election turmoil, including the recall of school board candidate Julie Williams in 2015. Somehow, though, the neighborhoods remain neighborhoods.