While the presidential race has taken up a lot of attention, local elections in Colorado deserve some time in the spotlight. In the state legislature, Democrats hold a three-seat majority in the House, and Republicans have a one-seat majority in the Senate.
Capitol Coverage reporter Bente Birkeland spoke with Ed Sealover, government reporter at the Denver Business Journal, and Peter Marcus, Denver correspondent at the Durango Herald, about this year’s legislative races and the potential for a shake-up in the statehouse.
Here are three things you need to know about the politics surrounding the balance of power in the state legislature:
1. The balance of power depends on a handful of races.
Sealover: “The Democrats are expected to hold onto the House, where they have a three-point lead right now. But the real question is the state Senate, where the Republicans have held an 18 -17 seat lead for the past two years. There are three seats that are really at play here., The trick is the Democrats have to win all three of them to take back the Senate.”
2. If Democrats control both chambers, expect some controversial issues to gain traction.
Sealover: “Increased regulations on oil and gas drilling, increased taxes on companies with offshore affiliates, even the idea of how to fund transportation and education and a possible reclassification of the hospital provider fee. All of those are going to have a heck of a lot better chance of passing if Democrats control the Senate as well as the House."
3. Voter turnout and enthusiasm will ultimately determine which party is in control in the statehouse.
Marcus: “Democrats currently have a sizeable advantage. What we’re probably going to see, and the most likely outcome, is that this is going to tighten. There are probably a lot of Republicans out there who are under-whelmed, to say the least, with this election. They may be staring at that ballot on the kitchen counter, and they just haven’t turned it in yet. The question is what do they do, how many maybe hold their nose and vote for Hillary Clinton, how that translates to down ticket races, and how many just sit it out completely."