Democrats likely to hang onto Colorado Legislature |

Democrats likely to hang onto Colorado Legislature

DENVER, Colorado ” Democrats appear likely to hang onto control of both the state House and Senate following the election, but Republicans are still hoping to score an important upset in Mesa County.

With 89 percent of the projected vote counted on Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Bernie Buescher was trailing his Republican challenger, Laura Bradford, by 583 votes.

Buescher has been in the running to replace Andrew Romanoff as House speaker and is a member of the influential budget committee. But Bradford criticized him, in part, for voting for Gov. Bill Ritter’s mill levy freeze plan to raise more money for schools. It prevents automatic decreases in tax rates when property values go up, leaving the owners of those properties with higher tax bills.

Ritter said losing Buescher would be a blow.

“Bernie was a great partner for us. He was a person whose public service I have long admired,” he said.

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Republicans also appeared poised to regain the seat they lost when Rep. Debbie Stafford of Aurora defected to the Democratic Party. With 89 percent of the projected vote counted, Republican Cindy Acree led Democrat Karen Wilde 59-41 percent.

In Summit County, Democratic Rep. Christine Scanlan held on to her seat, beating newcomer Ali Hasan 54-46 percent.

In Colorado Springs, Republican Mark Waller, best known for defeating Rep. Doug Bruce in the primary, led Democrat Michelle Maksimowicz. With 43 percent of the projected vote counted, Waller led Maksimowicz 66-34 percent.

In the Senate, Democratic Sen. Bob Bacon of Fort Collins defeated Republican challenger Matt Fries, 63 percent to 37.

In northwestern Colorado, Republican Rep. Al White made the jump to the Senate by beating Democrat Ken Brenner to replace the term-limited Jack Taylor.

In Arvada’s Senate District 19, Democrat Evie Hudak led Republican Libby Szabo 51 percent to 49 percent. It’s open because Democratic Sen. Sue Windels is term-limited.

Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the House 40-25 and in the Senate 20-15. The trend on Wednesday pointed toward Democrats losing one seat in the House but gaining one in the Senate.

Ritter said that wasn’t a verdict on his administration but a reflection on individual races.

He said Colorado is nearly evenly divided among Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated voters who want “pragmatic, solution-driven leadership.”

Ritter said Democrats must be mindful that in Colorado, “we’re not red, we’re not blue, we’re a state with a significant number of independents and moderates who want you to govern well but want you to govern as a centrist and want you to tackle these big issues, these quality-of-life issues.”

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