Donovan rides again: Vail native Kerry Donovan planning a 2018 state senate run |

Donovan rides again: Vail native Kerry Donovan planning a 2018 state senate run

Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan said she's planning a 2018 re-election bid. Donovan, a Vail native, represents Colorado's diverse 5th Senate District: Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake and Pitkin counties.
Randy Wyrick| |

Counties in Colorado’s Senate District 5








AVON — Kerry Donovan’s eyes were wide and attentive as another constituent explained, in lengthy detail, their issue du jour.

Donovan, your Colorado state senator and a Vail native, likes it so much that she said she’ll run for re-election in 2018 to represent Colorado’s 5th Senate District.

Donovan mentioned it during a town hall tour, as she was being interrogated about whether she plans to run for the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, encompassing Colorado’s Western Slope.

No, Donovan said, she lives in Vail and that’s in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, represented by Boulder Democrat Jared Polis.

And so, for now at least, she plans to keep doing what she’s doing, representing the Western Slope and the Upper Arkansas Valley: Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake and Pitkin counties.

Support Local Journalism

She bought a new truck. She’s going to need it. Her campaign trail is a long one.

“I probably have the most politically diverse district. I have bright, bright-blue (Democratic) Aspen, and bright, bright-red (Republican) Delta,” Donovan said.

The economic diversity is also extreme in her Senate district, from the affluence of Vail and Aspen, to struggling coal-mining communities.

“Kerry Donovan has been an effective and proven leader for the Western Slope,” said Morgan Carroll, who chairs Colorado’s Democratic Party. “She listened to the concerns of the different communities she has represented, and she not only has fought for them at the Capitol, but she has also made a point to educate other legislators about some of the unique challenges we face with water, broadband, rural economic development, tourism, farming and ranching. We are excited that she will running for a second term.”

Seeing it from both sides

In her town hall meetings, Donovan is careful to make sure both ends of the political spectrum get a fair hearing. She’s a Democrat by birth and training, but lays out the GOP perspective if there are no Republicans in the room willing to do it themselves.

Democrats at her recent Avon Town Hall tended to say that more money would solve most of Colorado’s problems.

Republicans, Donovan explained, might counter that it’s a matter of prioritization, by asking if the University of Colorado is in such dire financial straits, why is CU sponsoring the light rail line to Denver International Airport?

“There are people who gather around the center, and there are the far ends of both parties,” Donovan said. “At my town halls I want people from all perspectives to be comfortable.”

Big country

Republicans represent Colorado’s four geographic corners in the state Senate. Donovan’s state Senate District 5 covers Colorado’s rural middle area. That means five state senators represent the majority of Colorado’s geography.

Of Colorado’s 35 state senators, the rest are from the Front Range.

Some of those Front Range senators can be a bit jealous. Donovan’s town halls are often in brewpubs and ski resorts.

She has skied twice this year. That’s fine, she says.

“The mountain will still be there when I’m done,” she said.

She’ll serve out her current term, and if she wins in 2018, then she’ll serve four more years. Because of term limits that’ll be it for her state Senate career.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

Support Local Journalism