The #COpolitics hot seat: 2018 Senate contests

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Control of the Colorado General Assembly is a big 2018 item, and it starts in the Senate.

Here are the highlights on the 17 Senate seats up for grabs:

  • It isn’t a majority of the 35-member Senate. In the midst of four-year terms are 18 senators: 10 Democrats and eight Republicans.
  • Eight of the 2018 seats are open, with seven senators term-limited and Democrat Michael Merrifield, of Colorado Springs, opting not to run for re-election.
  • Of the nine incumbents running, seven are Republicans, two are Democrats. Of those Republicans, four are in districts that are Republican or lean that way, while three are in purple districts where unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats or Republicans. One Democratic incumbent is in a Democratic district, while another is in a purple district.
  • Of the eight open seats, two are Republican, two are Democratic and four are purple. One of those four – District 15 in Larimer County – includes 38 percent unaffiliated voters and 37 percent GOP voters.

Here’s a map of the seats up for grabs, with shading based on December 2017 active voter registration data. Scroll over districts for detail, zoom in for more detail on urban districts.

There’s still plenty of time for candidates to get in (or out) of the 17 contests. But here’s an early look at how the hot seats are shaping up.

Primary hot seats

Once these primary contests are over, the race is likely won.

Senate District 32: Six (!!!) Democratic candidates are vying to make the primary ballot, which is likely to be the only competitive contest for this Democratic Denver district. The winner likely will succeed term-limited Sen. Irene Aguilar.

Senate District 34: Five Ds want to replace Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman in this Democratic Denver district.

General hot seats

Senate District 11: It looks like Democratic Rep. Pete Lee will compete against Republican Patrick McIntire to replace Merrifield in this Colorado Springs district that’s 39 percent unaffiliated.

Senate District 22: Democratic Rep. Brittany Pettersen, of Lakewood, originally aimed for U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s seat, but then he abandoned the governor’s race and decided to stick with D.C. Now Pettersen is competing for SD22, as is Republican Tony Sanchez, of Littleton, who lost the seat to incumbent Sen. Andy Kerr in 2014. Kerr is term-limited.

Hot hot hot

Senate District 15: Two Democrats and two Republicans will try to battle in the primary to compete in the general election to replace term-limited Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Berthoud Republican. The district is 38 percent unaffiliated and 37 percent Republican, so could favor the GOP. But that could depend on the primary results.

Senate District 20: Democratic State Rep. Jessie Danielson, of Wheat Ridge, and Republican Christine Jensen, of Arvada, are the only candidates thus far aiming for the seat held by now unaffiliated Sen. Cheri Jahn, of Wheat Ridge. While Jahn was twice elected as a Democrat, the district is 38 percent unaffiliated, 31 percent D and 30 percent R.

Senate District 24: GOP Rep. Beth Martinez Humenik, of Thornton, is on the hot seat here – but will the centrist movement and unaffiliated voters help or hurt her? Democratic Rep. Faith Winter, of Westminster, is giving up her House seat to run. But Thornton City Councilman Adam Matkowsky switched from being a Democrat to unaffiliated and is offering a third option in the race. Will the Centrist Project get behind him?

Too soon to tell?

Senate District 5: With 39 percent of voters unaffiliated, this district should swing. But thus far, no one has filed to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan, of Eagle County.

Senate District 13, R: Sen. John Cooke, of Greeley, awaits a challenger in a district that’s 38 percent unaffiliated and 34 percent GOP.

Senate District 16: This district is 38 percent unaffiliated voters, with 30 percent for Ds and Rs. Can Democrat Tammy Story, of Conifer, who worked on the successful 2015 Jefferson County school board recalls, give GOP Sen. Tim Neville, of Littleton, a run for his money?


Senate District 1, R: Look for Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, of Sterling, to hold on to his seat, despite being named “Californian of the Year” by Independence Institute. His Democratic challenger lists a Denver address in her campaign filings.

Senate District 2: An open seat with candidates on either side looking to replace term-limited Senate President Kevin Grantham, of Canon City. Still, the numbers favor the GOP.

Senate District 3, D: Incumbent Sen. Leroy Garcia, of Pueblo, awaits a challenger in this 43 percent Democratic district.

Senate District 6, R: Same with Sen. Don Coram, of Montrose,  in a district that’s 38 percent Republican.

Senate District 7, R:  Sen. Ray Scott’s Mesa County district is 44 percent GOP. He has yet to face a challenger.

Senate District 9: It’s an open seat, but GOP Rep. Paul Lundeen, of Monument, is the only competitor to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Kent Lambert, of Colorado Springs.

Senate District 30, R: Sen. Chris Holbert, of Parker, awaits a challenger in this 43 percent GOP district.

Check out our Senate candidate twitter list, and let us know what we missed (or messed up) here or there in the comments, tweeting @COpoliticsCO or by emailing fish(at)

3 thoughts on “The #COpolitics hot seat: 2018 Senate contests

  1. Pingback: #COpolitics House hot seats: The open seats | #COpolitics

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