Centerist-Candidates-Foster-Geyer-Montoya-Peterson-W.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 8, 201814min3876

The nonprofit formerly known as the Centrist Project, a group working to elect nonpartisans officials nationwide, on Monday unveiled a slate of four unaffiliated Colorado candidates running this year for the Legislature  in the opening salvo of its assault on the two major parties' unbroken rule of the state's government. It also announced it's changing its name to Unite America and will call the state-focused organization Unite Colorado.


Merrifield-Pete-Lee-G.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 3, 20175min1189

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.


unnamed-4.jpg

Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 25, 20173min915

The recently retired principal of Will Rogers Elementary School has a new assignment: running for the state legislature.

Terry Martinez tells Colorado Politics is seeking the District 18 seat in Colorado Springs that will be vacated by Rep. Pete Lee, a Democrat who is term-limited.

The District 18 race includes fellow Democrat Graham Anderson and Republicans Jillian Likness and Donald Howbert, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Lee was first elected to the House in 2010 and was re-elected to his final term last November with 53 percent over Republican Cameron Forth and Libertarian Norman Dawson.

“It would be an honor to serve the people of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs in the state House” Martinez said in a statement. “We need leaders in the legislature with the passion and experience to help our communities overcome challenges and seek out new opportunities.

“My career as a teacher, principal and community leader allowed me to work with people to create real results, and I want to bring that skill to the state House of Representatives.”

A lifelong resident of Colorado Springs, Martinez’s education career includes Will Rogers and West Side schools. He ran the Valley Swim Team for many years, as well has his community involvement through New Life Downtown church.

His campaign provided an endorsement from a legislator who knows the legislative value of a background in education.

“Terry Martinez is the right choice for El Paso County,” state Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, a former school superintendent who sits on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee.

“We need more representatives with the skills Terry has developed through his years as a teacher and principal to fight for educational opportunities for Colorado’s youth and to bring thoughtful leadership experience to the state House. I am proud to endorse his candidacy.”

Martinez lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Jennifer, and has three adult daughters.