2012 Primary Preview: Part 2 (State House Races)

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



With just a few days left in Colorado’s 2012 Primary season, Let’s take a look at the battles that are being fought and where the players currently stand.

Just like in Part 1, covering the CU Regent and Senate Races, there are a few things to acknowledge up front first:

1) Ballots have been out and available for casting for a while now. Many of those likely to vote already have, and there may be little (if anything) besides GOTV that candidates can do to legitimately benefit or harm their campaigns.

2. I am not going to touch the federal races. There are already a million people doing analysis on these races and at least 95% of them know more about the dynamics of a federal race than I do.

3. I am going to spend more time on the races that are both interesting and important. For instance, it doesn’t really matter which Republican wins in HD4 because they have a 0% chance of beating Dan Pabon. And while there is technically a Republican primary in HD21, one of the candidates has only raised $500, while the other has brought in over $8000. So there really isn’t much analysis necessary.

4. I don’t claim to be an expert on these races or any kind of “insider”. I’m just giving one observer’s perspectives. Please feel free to contribute your own.

That said, enjoy my little list. This batch covers the State House races. Follow the link above to get to the CU Regent and State Senate races.

House District 1

DEM Jeanne Labuda vs DEM Corrie Houck

to take on the winner of

GOP John Kidd vs GOP James Wildt

The only double primary in the state right this year. But only the Dem’s race counts. In this area of SW Denver, Democrats are 42% of the active voters, so there is no realistic chance of the GOP nominee winning the big one.

Jeanne Labuda is out-spending her opponent by a 2-1 margin and has the incumbent advantage. She clearly knows that the Primary is the only races that matters and she’s not holding back. She’s got a serious paid canvass operation and by election day, every voter will have her her name and seen her picture many, many times. Not to mention the fact that most of them have voted for her several times before and will not have any serious reason to change their mind now.

Bottom Line: That said, Houck is putting up an admirable fight taking on three-term incumbent Labuda, but ultimately, Labuda is going to be elected to another term in the House.

House District 4

GOP Stuart Siffring vs GOP David Dobson

to take on DEM Dan Pabon

The two GOP candidates, combined, have spent only about $500. Rep. Pabon, meanwhile, has spent nearly $14,000 and hasn’t even really started campaigning, yet.

Bottom Line: This race falls squarely in the “lost cause” category for the GOP. Pabon will be handily re-elected.

House District 5

GOP Ronnie Nelson vs GOP Matthew Zielinski (write-in candidate)

to take on DEM Chrisanta Duran

Bottom Line: See HD4. Nelson will win the primary as the only name on the ballot, but Duran will be re-elected in November.

House District 12

DEM Mike Foote vs DEM Angie Layton

to take on GOP Russ Lyman

This race is interesting. Foote has actually out-raised Layton by nearly a 4-1 margin. ($40k vs $11). But Layton has loaned herself $25k to make up for the major split.

Each candidate has a long list of major supporters, and this is going to be a really tough fight. Mike Foote has the on-paper experience as the Deputy District Attorney, while Layton has (besides plenty of money to self-fund with) a long background of non-profit law and activism and was a volunteer lobbyist at the capitol for the last 4 years.

Bottom Line: This one is tough to call. Layton’s style of in-your-face activism excites democratic voters, especially in the boulder region, who may choose to overlook the more established candidate in favor of some fire. But Foote is no slouch. He is raising serious money and spending it with discipline. If I had to put money on either, it would be him.

House District 19

GOP Marsha Looper vs GOP Amy Stephens

To take on ACN Timothy Biolchini (No Democrat running)

What can I say about this race that everybody doesn’t know already. It is a bitter fight between two powerful House Republican incumbents. Both of them are extraordinarily well funded ($76k for Looper and $79k for Stephens) and are doing their best to out-conservative each other.

Looper won top line at assembly and, even though Stephens is working hard to stress her work to oppress gay people by preventing a vote on civil unions, the stigma of Amy-Care remains.

Bottom Line: It will be close and it will be ugly, but I’m calling this one for Looper.

House District 21

GOP Lois Landgraf vs GOP Albert Sweet

to take on ACN Shawn Halstead (No Democrat Running)

Bob Gardner left a gaping hole in this district that the candidates are trying desperate to fill and Landgraf looks more than poised to take it. Her fundraising advantage is huge, ($6,700 vs $475) plus she is pumping her own money in as well. This is a winner takes all primary with only token opposition from the ACN candidate, who hasn’t raised a penny.

Bottom Line: It would take a pretty serious miracle for Sweet to pull off a win here. Landgraf will serve in the House next year.

House District 22

GOP Justin Everett vs GOP Loren Bauman

to take on Dem Mary Parker

Everett won big at the district assembly with 58% and barring something extraordinary, he will win the primary. It’s really hard to lose when you’ve raised ten times as much as your opponent. Plus he has name recognition in the district, having run previously for the State Senate (he lost in a Primary to Mike Kopp).

Bottom Line: Everett will advance to a rougher-than-usual general election fight against Mary Parker.

House District 39

GOP Polly Lawrence vs GOP Lu Ann Busse

to take on DEM Carla Turner

This is the quintessential Establishment Republican vs Tea Party race. While Lawrence (The owner of an enormous construction company) has been scooping up endorsements from big GOP names in Colorado, Busse is her Glen Beck style rabble-rousing, social conservatism, and accusations of media bias into play.

Lawrence is winning in fundraising, but not by a lot ($56k vs $50k). Busse is running almost her entire campaign by attacking Lawrence and working hard not to spend too much time talking about her own credentials (Although having worked for the 9-12 “the government going to take your guns and kill your babies” Project would probably play well with primary voters.)

Bottom Line: While this one is tough to call, the backing of McNulty, Penry, Harvey, MUrray, and others should carry Lawrence across the finish line on election day. But as we’ve learned before, the rabid tea-party candidates should never be underestimated. Anything could happen here.

House District 41

DEM Jovan Melton vs DEM Terry Todd

To take on Independent JM Fay (No Republican Running)


Update: JM Fay did not meet the criteria to get on the ballot. So the Democratic nominee will be the only name on the ballot.

I’m not going to write a lot about this race simply because of how entrenched in it I am. I volunteer for Jovan Melton and was in the race myself up until the March Assembly.

Candidate Todd is running to replace his term-limited wife in the State House, while she runs for the vacant Senate District 28 seat. Melton entered the race about six month’s after Todd, but overtook him in both support and fundraising quickly.

To date, Melton has raised $24k to Todd’s $16k. Melton has raised three times as much ($9k vs $3k) from within the city of Aurora and took top line at the district assembly by 61-39.

Bottom Line: Every objective indication says that Melton will win. But this race continues to make the must-watch list for a reason, it could easily go either way.

House District 48

GOP Jeffrey Hare vs GOP Stephen Humphrey

to take on… no one. No one else is running.

This is the House seat formerly occupied by Glen Vaad, who is now running for the State Senate. Hare has not only been ahead of his opponent in fundraising (Despite rejecting special interest PAC and SDC money), but his PR choices seem to be more on par with winning candidates.

However, Humphrey is picking up big endorsements like Ken Buck and Scott Renfroe, not to mention Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and others.

Former Senator Ken Gordan and his group, CleanSlateNow.org, is putting resources into this race to help elect Hare. He and his organization have made it their goal to support candidates who turn down special interest money, regardless of party, and residents all over this district have received repeated phone calls from volunteers of CleanSlateNow, urging them to vote for Hare, which may just be the extra advantage that he needs to win this election.

Bottom Line: These two split the assembly vote by 51-49 and the Primary is likely to be just as tight.

House District 60

GOP Jim Wilson vs GOP Steve Collins

to take on DEM Pier Cohen

Steve Collins is a self-described libertarian and vintage motorcycle collector with little to no government experience. He has struggle in this race to give voters a reason to vote for him or donate (he’s raised just over $1000).

Meanwhile, Jim Wilson (James on the Ballot) boasts 40 years as a public school teacher and superintendent as well as dozens of titles and memberships that make him look to be the only experienced candidate in the race.

Wilson also offered up this quote for the Book Civica Guide to the 2012 Colorado Statehouse Elections, “Because of my having survived 40 years in public education as a Republican, I have a track record at the local, state, and national level of working with all kinds of people and getting things done without sacrificing my conservative beliefs.” Wilson’s biggest vulnerability is that, despite having a significant fundraising advantage, he is spending almost none of it. However, this is more likely a sign of confidence about his chances.

Bottom Line: Wilson has the local name recognition, support, and credentials to win this race without breaking a sweat.

House District 61

GOP Debra Irvine vs GOP David Justice

to take on DEM Millie Hamner and IND Kathleen Curry

Debra Irvine has one of the most diverse resumes of any candidate in Colorado. She is currently an professional artist, but has also worked as a German Instructor, Ski Instructor, Hotel Inventory Manager, Suicide Hotline Counselor, DOD Sub-Contractor, and Air Force Academy Clerk. She went to High School in Germany, College in Maryland and holds two graduate degrees from the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. She has run for the State House before and served a term as the chair of the Summit County Republicans.

David Justice, on the other hand, offers little to potential supporters. He has refused to submit information to the various groups that publish voter guides and his website is actually a blog on which he spends more time complaining about how much he hates being a candidate than he does actually justifying his candidacy.

Whoever wins this primary (Irvine) will find themselves in a crowded General Election. Former Democrat Kathleen Curry is running once again as an independent. She help the seat previously, but was denied a spot on the ballot when she left the Democratic party too late in 2010 and the courts upheld the decision to keep her name off of the ballot. Nonetheless, she continued to campaign as a write-in candidate and almost won the seat. So the DEM and GOP candidates certainly have something to worry about.

Bottom Line: Debra Irvine will win the primary easily, but has a tough road ahead of her to make it through the General Election.

House District 63

GOP Lori Saine vs GOP Mike Mazzocco (Write-in candidate)

to take on DEM Tim Ericson

Running as a write-in candidate takes a lot of resources and Mike Mazzocco just doesn’t have it. He has an impressive website (even though he makes his attacks against his opponent more prominent than promoting himself) and he would probably have had a good chance at winning if he had met the deadlines and got himself on the ballot.

Lori Saine fell into some controversy shortly after winning an exclusive spot on the ballot at the district assembly with 62% of the vote, when it came to light that she had just been through both bankruptcy and foreclosure. But as the sole name on the ballot, she will likely still fly through the primary without issue.

Bottom Line: Saine will win the primary and (given the dynamics of the district) will likely win the general election as well.  

13 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gray in Mountains says:

    there is also an ACP candidate

    • AndrewBateman says:

      But the approach that I took was to list who their biggest opponent would be after the election. In some races where there was no DEM or GOP candidate, that meant listing an ACN or IND candidate. The only exception was in HD 61 where there are three viable candidates who all have a chance of winning. However, the ACN candidate is not one of them.

      However for anyone who would like a list of every candidate for every position, go here. The only candidates not included are independent candidates.

  2. PitaPita says:

    about most of the House races.  Thanks.

  3. JimW says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that somehow the simple act of registering to vote and simply listing one party will decide all future elections. Following that logic we could save money by simply declaring one person the winner by percent of voter registrations. Fortunately we have the secret ballot where you can vote your conscience. To expect anything less of the voters is short changing the citizens of the US. That has and continues to be my theme, look at the candidate, talk to them if you want to, examine who and what they are and then vote accordingly. The concept of “robot voters” is badly outdated. Lets give people credit for thinking before they vote.

    James Wildt

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      except that any person who listens to conversation knows that the majority of voters do NOT think bewfore voting, do not analyse information, even say there is too much information

      • droll says:

        I was impressed for purely attention paying reasons. That also implies that the 30% at least slightly aware folks actually sat down to consider things and still came up with Tancredo as the right man for the job. That part isn’t so impressive, but the rest stands.

        Anyway, I’m never sure what to think about the reflex voters anymore. Are we giving too little credit? Perhaps too much (in the case of Tanc, for instance)?

  4. Political Junkie says:

    I disagree on this race. It is not too close to call!  Mike Foote will win.  You cannot just look at the money, but you have to look at the overall race and the discipline of the candidates.  Mike has the organization and the team, and wiil get this done.  As someone close to race, I predict this will be a 2 to 1 victory!!

  5. Fidel's dirt nap says:

    is pounding some serious pavement, doing lots of door to door canvassing.  Hasn’t come to my house but two of my friends in the hood got visits from him.  I really like that plus a deputy DA is no slouch (neither is Layton mind you) so he got my vote.

    Paul Weissman was so freaking down to earth and awesome.  Sad to see him term limited.

  6. Dn. Quixote says:

    No republican will ever defeat Crisanta Duran in HD5…why run? This is ridiculous, but in Denver only democrats have a voice.

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