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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 9, 20172min213
The race to succeed Rep. Pete Lee in House District 18 in Colorado Springs next year got a little more crowded when former Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder signed up for the race last week. Lee is running in Senate District 11 to succeed Mike Merrifield, a former Manitou Springs city councilman who is retiring […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 8, 20173min360
Jillian Likness, a Republican political activist and strategist, is in the race to succeed Rep. Pete Lee in House District 18 in Colorado Springs next year. Lee, a Democrat, is term-limited in the House and said last weekend he plans to run for Senate District 11. The incumbent there, Democrat Mike Merrifield, said he’s stepping […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 5, 20173min75
The news came as a surprise Saturday night when Rep. Pete Lee told a gathering of Democrats at Colorado College he planned to run for Sen. Mike Merrifield’s District 11 seat. Merrifield could run for another term, before term limits force him out in 2022. He beat Republican Bernie Herpin in 2014, after Herpin unseated […]

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Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 3, 20175min3250

State Rep. Pete Lee, a term-limited Colorado Springs Democrat, announced Saturday night that he’s running for the Senate District 11 seat held by state Sen. Mike Merrifield in next year’s election.

Lee was among several candidates for Congress, the Colorado Legislature and statewide offices at a three-hour forum sponsored by the El Paso County Democratic Party and the Colorado College Democrats at the college’s Armstrong Hall. Roughly 100 students and community members showed up to hear the candidates describe their platforms and answer questions.

Merrifield didn’t respond to an email inquiry from Colorado Politics, but according to Lee, Merrifield does not plan to seek a second term.

Two of the four declared Democratic gubernatorial candidates — former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and businessman Noel Ginsburg — also appeared at the forum. The other two, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and former state Sen. Michael Johnston, sent representatives to a mixer beforehand but didn’t participate in the discussion. (Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne is exploring a run but hasn’t made her candidacy official.)

Kennedy and Ginsburg were in agreement that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which limits government spending, needs to be revised, saying the 1992 constitutional amendment doesn’t allow funding for education to keep pace with Colorado’s growth.

“If we don’t take on TABOR,” Ginsburg said, “we can’t solve our education problems.” He said he’d work to pass “TABOR 2.0,” which would retain the right of voters to approve tax increases but strip its ratcheting effects that suppress spending after economic downturns.

Blaming TABOR for starving schools for decades, Kennedy lamented that Colorado ranks 42nd in state funding for K-12 education, despite having a booming economy. She noted that she wrote Amendment 23, the only measure to increase state funding for education approved by voters in the past three decades.

“We can’t let our state become the next California. We need to keep Colorado affordable, we need to protect our state’s open spaces and public lands,” Kennedy said.

She also took aim at the Trump administration. “We are going to fight the nonsense we see in Washington,” she said. “We will fight (President) Donald Trump in the courthouse and in the statehouse. We are not going to let him take this state backwards.”

Ginsburg pointed to his role helping found the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation, which shepherds classes of third-graders through college — “turning a 90-percent dropout rate into a 90-percent graduation rate” — and said it typified the approach he would take to governing the state.

“My form of leadership is to take on difficult problems, to build coalitions and make difficult things happen for the state of Colorado,” he said.

Merrifield, a Colorado Springs Democrat, is serving his first term representing one of the few districts in the Colorado Springs area in which Democrats have an advantage. The Senate district includes downtown Colorado Springs and surrounding neighborhoods, stretching south to Stratmoor and west to Manitou Springs. At the end of August, 33 percent of its active, registered voters were Democrats, 25 percent were Republican, and 39 percent were unaffiliated.

Legislative candidates in attendance included state Rep. Tony Exum, who is seeking reelection to House District 17; Terry Martinez and Graham Anderson, who are running in a primary for Lee’s House District 18 seat; and Liz Rosenbaum, running in House District 21.

The Democrats running in the 5th Congressional District included Betty Field and Stephany Rose Spaulding, and newly announced candidate Marcus Murphy, a civil rights attorney who introduced himself as a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Also participating were secretary of state candidates Jena Griswold and Gabriel McArthur; state Rep. Steve Lesock, a Thornton Democrat running for state treasurer; and attorney general candidates Michael Dougherty, Brad Levin and Phil Weiser, who were joined on stage by a surrogate representing state Rep. Joe Salazar, a Thornton Democrat.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 1, 20173min2210

The campaign organization that works to elect Democrats to the Colorado Senate has named political veteran Michael Whitehorn as its executive director, it announced Monday. Whitehorn, who was most recently U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette’s campaign manager and senior counsel to the Denver Democrat’s congressional office, takes over from Andrew Short, who helmed the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund in the last cycle.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 25, 201727min1371

By one measure, state Rep. Justin Everett, a House Republican serving his third term in the Colorado General Assembly, and state Reps. Chris Hansen and Chris Kennedy, a pair of Democrats in their first terms, stand as far apart as any lawmakers at the Capitol, based on the votes they cast in the just-completed 2017 regular session. Considering all the bills that made it to final, third-reading votes in the session — 490 in the House and 459 in the Senate — between them, these three legislators cast the most ‘no’ votes and the most ‘yes’ votes, respectively, according to an analysis prepared by bill-tracking service Colorado Capitol Watch.