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A comprehensive look at everything that happened on Colorado’s Election Day 2018 as it unfolded

A minute-by-minute look at how the action unfolded across Colorado

  • Credibility:

The Colorado Sun kept track of Colorado’s 2018 Election Day in a live blog. Here’s what happened: 

Democrat declares victory in attorney general’s race, but Republican rival hasn’t conceded

Republican George Brauchler takes a picture of the crowd at the Colorado GOP watch party on Tuesday night, Nov. 6, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Democrat Phil Weiser declared victory in the attorney general’s race just after 11 p.m. Tuesday, as preliminary results showed him with a narrow win.

The unofficial results showed Weiser at 49.5 percent and Republican George Brauchler at 47.7 percent — the two separated by about 32,000 votes. 9News called the race for him just moments before he took the stage.

Weiser’s victory gave Democrats control of all four statewide constitutional offices for the first time since 1948.

The additional wins for control of the state House and state Senate make this a Democratic wave year in Colorado not seen since 1936, according to a Colorado Sun analysis.

“We in Colorado have a unique opportunity to be a model for our nation in a challenging time,” Weiser said.

Brauchler said earlier in the night that he thought the race was too close to call.

“I think this thing is going to keep going,” Brauchler told supporters at the Colorado GOP’s watch party.

The Colorado Sun reached out to Brauchler via text message after Weiser declared victory on Tuesday night but did not immediately hear back.

— John Frank and Jesse Paul (Updated 11:15 p.m.)

Colorado voters reject both sides in oil and gas fight

Oil and gas facilities in Weld County on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. (Jacob Paul, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Anti-fracking activists and the oil and gas industry spent the past several months waging one of the most divisive battles on the ballot this year. But, when the ballots were actually counted Tuesday, Colorado voters said they wanted no part of the fight.

Voters sent a resounding message to both sides in rejecting Proposition 112 and Amendment 74 — a message that, based on the statements released late Tuesday by the various campaigns and advocacy groups, may or may not have quelled the urge for more political combat.

Proposition 112 would have required oil and gas development to be set back at least 2,500 feet from occupied homes and other things. Amendment 74 would have allowed property owners to sue governments when they adopted laws or regulations that hurt the owners’ property value — a measure that could have opened the door to multimillion-dollar lawsuits by the oil and gas industry over 112, if it had passed.

After the failure of both measures, there were those who took a conciliatory tone.

“We now turn to a new year, in which we will continue substantive, serious dialogue with our colleagues on the other side of this debate,” said Tracee Bentley, the executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council. “There will always be a seat at the table for anyone who seeks to keep Colorado the envy of the nation, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

And there were those who suggested the fight would go on.

“No one in this state would be foolish enough to say that tonight’s result means that voters want an oil and gas rig closer to their homes, schools, or hospitals,” said Kelly Nordini, the executive director of Conservation Colorado. “The fact remains: The oil and gas problem in this state has not been solved.”

“We celebrate the men and women who work in and around Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry tonight. They are heroes that work to fuel our 21st century economy and way of life,” said Amy Oliver Cooke, the director of the group Spirit of Colorado, which opposed 112. “We will continue to fight for their future and ours when the next battle rears its ugly head.”

— John Ingold (Updated 10:55 p.m.)

Voters hit brakes on both transportation-funding measures 

Traffic in downtown Denver on Oct. 30, 2018. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Two measures that would have raised money for Colorado roads were soundly defeated Tuesday.

Proposition 109, which would have authorized the state government to borrow up to $3.5 billion to fund highway projects, was shut down 39 percent to 61 percent, with 72 percent of votes counted. That was 660,500 votes in favor versus 1.03 million against.

A competing measure, Proposition 110, would have increased sales and use tax rates for 20 years to create a new funding stream for road projects. It was defeated 40 percent to 60 percent, with 73 percent of the votes counted. That was 681,000 votes in favor versus 1.02 million against.

“The message is that the legislature needs to fix our roads,” said Michael Fields, executive director of Colorado Rising Action, which was against the tax hike. “Coloradans have said that transportation funding is a priority, but these results show that a tax increase isn’t going to fly. The legislature needs to tackle this immediately when the General Assembly convenes.”

— Jennifer Brown (Updated 10:21 p.m.)

Rural districts seeing overwhelming voter support to adjust mill levies, ease Gallagher stranglehold

Rural voters on Colorado’s Western Slope buoyed their firefighters on Tuesday with decisive votes allowing rural fire protection districts to adjust mill levies on homes to offset revenues steadily declining under the Gallagher Amendment.

The 1982 amendment requires the state to maintain a 45-55 balance between homes and commercial properties when collecting property taxes. Rising home values and a conflict with the 1992 TABOR Amendment has led to declining property tax collections ravaging rural districts that fund fire, police and emergency services, hospitals, recreation and more.

Eight rural districts — mostly fire but one water and sanitation district and Colorado Mountain College — in Routt County were tracking toward voter approval that would allow each district to adjust property tax levies to offset declining revenues under Gallagher. So were five districts in Montrose County. Six in Pitkin County. Three in San Miguel County. And three in Eagle County.

The Greater Eagle Fire Protection District is one of dozens of special taxing districts across Colorado seeking taxpayer approval to annually adjust mill levy rates to offset revenue declines under the state’s Gallagher Amendment. (Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun)

Just about every rural fire district on the Western Slope appeared to have won voter approval for relief under Gallagher in early results.

“It was a grassroots education and very hands-on education, not what you see in your mailers or website barrages,” said John Bennett, the chief of Telluride’s Fire Protection District, which had about 70 percent of voters approving its mill-levy adjustment request in early results late Tuesday. “We spent a lot of time on our local radio and in the newspaper and meeting with special interest groups. I feel like our message was heard loud and clear.”

— Jason Blevins (Updated 10:11 p.m.)

One outcome not certain: size of Democratic House majority

Democrats took the trifecta at the state Capitol — governor, state Senate and state House — with big victories across the Colorado in competitive races.

In the state House, the majority of the 65 lawmakers — and a majority of Democratic caucus — are women for the first time, said KC Becker, the House Majority Leader, to a cheering ballroom at The Westin hotel in downtown Denver.

The one outstanding question at this point is the size of the Democratic state House majority.

The early election returns show Democrats with at least 36 seats. A handful of races remain too close to call, but there’s a chance that Democrats may get as high as 40 seats.

“This is a historic night,” said Alec Garnett, the assistant Democratic leader in the chamber. “We have raised the bar in the state House to a level I don’t think people thought we could ever get to.”

Embattled Democratic state Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, also won re-election despite media reports about a guilty plea in a domestic violence case from the late 1990s, and a subsequent arrest on charges that he assaulted a woman in 2008. In the latter, the allegations were dropped.

News of the cases prompted calls from top Democrats for Melton to resign, but he refused. 

— John Frank (Updated 10:07 p.m.)

How U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman — once “virtually bulletproof” — lost to Jason Crow

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, reads an emotional concession speech on Tuesday night, Nov. 6, 2018, at a Marriott Hotel in Lone Tree. “in the end, the waves were too big for this ship of ours,” the five-term incumbent said.

Days before the election, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman stood at a busy intersection in the 6th Congressional District waving campaign signs and smiling at passing motorists, searching for any sign that he might keep his job.

His 30-year political career hung in the balance, and the five-term incumbent Republican acknowledged that he was the underdog in the polls. But polls, Coffman reasoned, had been wrong about him before.

Instead, Coffman’s long reign ended Tuesday in what appeared to be a decisive defeat as the results were still rolling in, a national case study that showed the difficulty for a moderate Republican to win in the era of President Donald Trump.

Read more from the Sun’s Jesse Paul here.

— Jesse Paul (Updated 10:05 p.m.)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams concedes to Jena Griswold

Secretary of State Wayne Williams has conceded to Democrat Jena Griswold, the latest Colorado Republican to admit defeat on what has been a brutal night for the state GOP.

Griswold, an attorney and first-time candidate for office, was leading Williams 50 percent to 47 percent in preliminary results Tuesday evening. She is the first Democrat to win the seat in 60 years and the first woman Democrat to ever hold the post.

She said voters responded to “our demand that politics as usual is no longer accepted.”

With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Griswold led 857,929 votes to 805,566.

— Brian Eason and John Frank (Updated 10:04 p.m.)

Democratic women lead party to control of state Senate

The Colorado Senate chamber on Sept. 18, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Democrats grabbed control of the state Senate on Tuesday as early election results show victories for five women in hotly contested seats. Two of them beat GOP incumbents, two seized open seats and one retained her seat.

The preliminary voting results give Democrats a 19-16 majority likely to work hand-in-hand with incoming Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and the Democratic House.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, called Democrats to concede Tuesday evening.

The state Senate contests featured heavy TV advertising and a barrage of mail, mostly from independent super PACs. Republicans competed hard to hold the one-seat majority it won in 2016 but a huge Democratic turnout and big spending overwhelmed them.

Here’s what happened:

  • Democratic state Rep. Faith Winter upset GOP Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, who gave Republicans their one-seat majority four years ago. Outside groups spent $5 million on TV ads, mailers and more in the Adams County district, with both parties relatively even. But Winter outspent Martinez Humenik $377,000 to about $60,500 through Oct. 24.
  • Democrat Tammy Story defeated incumbent GOP Sen. Tim Neville in Senate District 16, which encompasses the mountains of Jefferson County, and parts of Gilpin, Boulder and Denver counties. Outside groups supporting Story spent about $1.9 million compared with about $840,000 by GOP groups. And Story spent about three times as much as Neville. Total cost: $3.3 million.
  • In Colorado’s most expensive Senate contest ever, Democratic state Rep. Jessie Danielson defeated Republican Christine Jensen for a Jefferson County district seat centered in Wheat Ridge and Arvada. Outside groups spent nearly $5.9 million and the two candidates spent at least $444,000. GOP groups had a slight edge in super PAC spending, $3.2 million to $2.7 million for Democratic groups.
  • Democratic Rep. Brittany Pettersen easily defeated Republican Tony Sanchez, who made his second unsuccessful run at this south Jefferson County seat based in Lakewood. Democratic groups spent more than $1 million, while GOP groups spent about $502,000. Pettersen outspent Sanchez by 3.5 times through Oct. 24.
  • Incumbent Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan defeated Republican challenger Olen Lund in a seat based in the state’s central mountain region. Donovan outraised Lund $229,306 to $31,353; outside spending in the contest totalled more than $1 million, with Democrats having about a $100,000 edge.

— Sandra Fish (Updated 9:32 p.m.)

Tax hike to fund schools defeated

Voters defeated a measure that would have pumped an extra $1.6 billion into schools throughout Colorado. Amendment 73 was failing 43.9 percent in favor to 56.1 percent against, with 69 percent of the votes counted Tuesday night.

The count was 709,487 votes in favor to 906,550 votes against.

The measure was “the wrong answer to improving education,” said “No on 73” campaign co-chair Dave Davia. “With no guarantee of higher wages for teachers or improved student performance, this measure would have stifled our economy, cost jobs, placed a hefty burden on small business and choked special districts.”

Denver’s East High School on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. (Lauren Bieber, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The amendment, which required 55 percent approval to pass, would have raised income taxes on corporations and the wealthy and prevented property tax cuts for homeowners.

The measure was supported by school boards, superintendents and teachers across the state.

“Together, we’ve changed the conversation and established that school funding is in crisis in Colorado,” said Lisa Weil, executive director of Great Education Colorado, which supported the initiative. “This conversation, and the effort for equitable funding for Colorado schools, will continue, as will the broad-based coalition that came together to help our schools, kids and teachers.”

— Jennifer Brown (Updated 9:18 p.m.)

“Strong Arm” Frank Azar outmuscled

Prominent personal injury attorney Frank Azar took it personally when Judge Edward Moss ruled against him in a case involving an insurance company. So Azar spent more than $262,000 in the effort to unseat Moss, airing TV ads in English and Spanish, radio and digital ads.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Frank Azar is the sole donor to a Super PAC making big ad buys to get a judge out of office. (via fdazar.com)

It didn’t work.

Voters were electing to retain Moss by 66 percent in preliminary tallies about two hours after the polls closed.

Some in the legal community feared that if Azar had been successful, it would open the floodgates to wealthy lawyers trying to unseat judges with whom they disagreed.

— Sandra Fish (Updated 9:16 p.m.)

Colorado elects its first African-American to Congress

Joe Neguse on Tuesday became the first African-American to win a congressional seat in Colorado.

The Democrat easily won the open 2nd District seat vacated by Jared Polis, who won the governor’s race. Both made history in the 2018 election. Polis is the nation’s first openly gay elected governor in the U.S.

Neguse stood at 64 percent support in early returns.

“Only in America is my family story possible. It is what makes this state and our nation so incredible,” Neguse said told a crowd of supporters at The Westin hotel in downtown Denver.

Democrat Joe Neguse addresses supporters after winning election in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (John Frank, The Colorado Sun)

Neguse’s parents stood on stage behind him. Thirty-five years ago, they immigrated from the tiny East African country of Eritrea.

The 2nd District covers Boulder and Fort Collins, as well as mountain communities along Interstate 70.

— John Frank (Updated 9:06 p.m.)

Colorado OK’s anti-gerrymandering Amendments Y and Z 

Colorado easily passed two measures to revamp the process of drawing boundary lines for congressional and legislative districts.

Amendments Y and Z, which had bipartisan support, were passing with 71 percent of votes in favor. They needed 55 percent to pass.

The amendments were sent to the ballot through a unanimous vote by the legislature. Y changes the way congressional district boundaries are drawn, while Z involves district maps for the state House and Senate.

The measures will set up commissions with an equal number of Democrats, Republicans and members unaffiliated with either party to oversee the map-drawing process of redistricting.

“Colorado has done what no other state has done before,” Kent Thiry, campaign co-chair of Fair Maps Colorado and the chief executive of DaVita Healthcare, said in an emailed statement. “We are giving independent voters an equal voice and equal seat at the table.”

With 67 percent of votes counted, there were 1.12 million in favor and about 450,000 against for each.

— Jennifer Brown (Updated 8:54 p.m.)

Jared Polis invokes his historic win in victory speech

Democrat Jared Polis declared victory in the governor’s race Tuesday night by pledging to serve as a governor for all Colorado residents.

The nation’s first openly gay elected governor entered the ballroom at The Westin in downtown Denver to Bob Dylan’s “Times They Are A Changin” and made a nod to his historic victory.

“Tonight, right here in Colorado we proved that no barriers should stand in the way of pursuing our dreams,” he said. “We proved we are an inclusive state that values every contribution regardless of someone’s sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Polis — who largely downplayed the historic nature of his candidacy in the campaign — thanked the “LGBTQ pioneers” who came before him. “I’m profoundly grateful for all the work you’ve done to overcome,” he said.

Polis didn’t waste time to start advancing his agenda. He said he called Republican state Rep. Jim Wilson earlier today to discuss how to advance his proposal for full-day kindergarten.

— John Frank (Updated 8:40 p.m.)

Republican Walker Stapleton, right, concedes to Democrat Jared Polis on Tuesday night, Nov. 6, 2018. He was flanked by his wife and children. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Republican Scott Tipton wins re-election in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton has won re-election, defeating former Democratic state lawmaker Diane Mitsch Busch, according to The Associated Press.

With 71 percent of precincts reporting, the four-term Republican held an 11 percentage point lead.

— Brian Eason (Updated 8:37 p.m.)

9News: Payday lending reforms projected to pass

Proposition 111, a measure prohibiting payday lenders from charging more than 36 percent interest in Colorado, will be adopted by a wide margin, according to 9News projections.

Today, Colorado already has some of the strictest payday lending rules in the country, theoretically limiting interest to 50 percent. But when you factor in the additional fees lenders are allowed to charge, the average loan winds up costing customers 129 percent annual percentage yield.

— Brian Eason (Updated 8:26 p.m.)

Democrats haven’t won this big in 70 years

Colorado Democrats are preparing for victories in the 2018 election on a scale the party hasn’t seen since 1948.

The party leads in early returns in all statewide constitutional offices, and if it holds, it would be the first time for Democrats in seven decades, according to an analysis by The Colorado Sun.

The results are a sign the blue wave crashed hard in Colorado, and party leaders said the results show solid straight-ticket voting this year with little voter drop-off in the down-ballot races.

“We have a chance to win every single statewide election,” shouted U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet at the Democratic Party’s election night event at The Westin in downtown Denver.

Democrats are looking to win the governor’s office, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer. (In 1948, they also held the auditor’s seat, which at the time was an elected position.)

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 1948 was William Lee Knous. In 2018, it’s Jared Polis, who is the first openly gay man elected governor in the nation.

The Republican Party is more familiar with this role. In 1970 and 1972, the party won all the statewide constitutional offices. (By then, the auditor was an appointed position.)

The last time Democrats controlled all the statewide constitutional offices and the state legislature — 1936, or 80 years.

Read more from the Sun’s John Ingold here.

— John Frank and Brian Eason (Updated: 8:07 p.m.)

Republicans try to calm supporters as bad news rolls in

Colorado GOP Chairman Jeff Hays, left, speaks to a 9News reporter at the party’s election 2018 watch party in Lone Tree Tuesday night, Nov. 6, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

LONE TREE — As bad news rolled in for Republicans on Tuesday night, Colorado Republican Party leaders tried to calm a melancholy watch party.

“This is not over,” GOP party spokesman Daniel Cole said. “Votes are still being counted.”

As results showing Democrats leading up and down the ballot were read, some of those in attendance began to boo. Many were simply silent.

— Jesse Paul (Updated 8:00 p.m.)

NBC News: Democrat Jason Crow projected winner over U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District

Democrat Jason Crow is the projected winner in the 6th Congressional District over five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.

NBC News called the race at about 7:30 p.m. on Crow’s behalf.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office had Crow up with 53 percent of the vote to Coffman’s 45 percent with 245,000 ballots counted.

The seat is one of 23 Democrats need to retake the U.S. House.

— Jesse Paul (Updated 7:50 p.m.)

Jared Polis declared winner in Colorado

Jared Polis won the Colorado governor’s race, according to two major TV stations, becoming the first openly gay man elected governor in the nation.

NBC News and ABC News called the race for the Democrat at the top of the ticket about 40 minutes after polls closed.

Polis led with 52 percent to 45 percent against Republican Walker Stapleton, according to preliminary state results.

— John Frank (Updated: 7:45 p.m.)

At GOP watch party, chairman reassures anxious supporters

LONE TREE — There was an early sense of anxiety as Colorado Republicans filed into their watch party in Denver’s southern suburbs Tuesday night.

Some Republicans complained about their voters’ lackluster turnout as polls were closing, even as party leaders sought to reassure them.

“It’s still early,” Colorado GOP chairman Jeff Hays told those gathered. “It’s going to be a long night, but it’s going to be a great night.”

— Jesse Paul (Updated 7:20 p.m.)

Colorado polls close

The polls have closed in Colorado, but you can still vote if you’re already in line.

At last update, voting was up from the last midterm election in 2014, when 2,051,591 people voted.

As of 6 p.m., 2,217,895 ballots had been cast, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Democrats so far have the edge in ballots returned, with 732,700 to registered Republicans’ 725,464. But the big surge has been from Unaffiliated voters, who have cast 728,004 ballots — slightly edging out Republicans.

— Brian Eason (Updated: 7:00 p.m.)

While Colorado votes, cyber experts watch for the worst

It’s been a “pretty boring afternoon” at Colorado’s special cybersecurity war room, our own Tamara Chuang reports.

But her story’s well worth a read.

“What we’ve seen is what other states have seen as well, and we’ve been communicating across the states. We’ve seen minor scans from various countries,” said Rich Schliep, chief information security officer for the Colorado Department of State.

Yes, that says “countries,” but no, that’s not out of the ordinary, as Tamara explains.

Read the rest here.

Democrats split on what this election means in Colorado

Inside a ballroom at The Westin hotel in downtown Denver, some Democrats are talking about the 2018 election as the final piece of a puzzle needed to turn Colorado blue.

But Gov. John Hickenlooper is more circumspect. He thinks Colorado will remain a “purple state.” This election, he said, is about one thing: President Donald Trump.

“It’s a blunt comment, a direct comment, on the Trump presidency,” the term-limited Democrat said. “I think a lot of people are sending a message to Washington.”

— John Frank (Updated: 6:45 p.m.)

Polling locations experiencing wait times as evening rush begins

In Denver, elections officials are warning about waits at polling locations amid the evening rush. Polls close at 7 p.m.

— John Frank (Updated 4:35 p.m.)

A major turnout shift this year?

Republicans are sounding the alarm bells on their party’s voter turnout. Democrats are optimistic because of their side’s energy. And analysts are stunned by the huge influx of unaffiliated voters.

Why are Colorado politicos so obsessed with the early vote turnout? Well, perspective is important. In the 2014 midterm, a strong Republican year, the final turnout numbers showed 37 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat and 31 percent unaffiliated. So Republicans had a 5 percentage point advantage, and their candidates won all statewide contests but the governor’s race.

This year, the latest numbers show: 33.4 percent Democrat, 32.9 percent Republican and 32.3 percent unaffiliated. In other words, it’s about even. But as you can see from 2014, even is not good enough for Republicans, particularly because unaffiliated voters lean Democratic this year.

— John Frank (Updated 4:15 p.m.)

“Raise the Bar” is in effect. But recently, the higher voting threshold wouldn’t have made a difference.

Colorado’s higher voting thresholds for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments are in effect for the first time Tuesday, meaning two of the most significant proposals on the ballot will need 55 percent of the vote to pass.

Quick refresher: Colorado voters in 2016 passed Amendment 71, a measure known as “Raise the Bar,” which made it harder to put constitutional changes on the ballot and increased the threshold for passage to 55 percent of the vote from a simple majority.

The two constitutional changes we’re watching most closely this year: Amendment 73, which would raise taxes for schools, and Amendment 74, the so-called “takings” measure, which would allow property owners to sue the government for reimbursement if any laws or regulations reduce the market value of their land or mineral rights.

Interestingly, if you apply the threshold to recent elections? It actually wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Amendments raising the minimum wage and “Raise the Bar” itself both narrowly cleared the 55 percent threshold in 2016. So did pot legalization and a measure regarding corporate campaign contributions in 2012.

In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to 2008 to find a constitutional change that passed with a simple majority but would have been defeated under the new rules.

That’s not to say “Raise the Bar” won’t have a sizable impact in Colorado. Many of those measures, despite the strong support at the ballot box, may not have even made the ballot in the first place under Amendment 71’s tougher petitioning requirements.

— Brian Eason (Updated 3:50 p.m.)

Colorado Republican Party sends third email plea today urging GOP voters to turn out

— Jesse Paul (Updated 3:33 p.m.)

More ballots have now been cast than in 2014; Democrats’ lead widens to 10,000 ballots

As of 3 p.m., 2,062,777 ballots had been cast in Colorado.

That surpasses the 2,051,591 ballots cast in the 2014 midterms, setting the stage for a potentially sizable bump in turnout once all is said and done.

(For reference, in 2016 — a presidential election year, which typically sees much higher turnout — 2,884,807 voters cast ballots in Colorado.)

Democrats’ lead in ballots returned has grown to about 10,000, with 689,238 coming from the party’s registered voters to 679,685 from Republicans.

As we’ve been saying all day, if GOP voters do not turn out en masse Tuesday, the party is looking at what could be a disastrous result. Democrats and unaffiliated voters historically show up late to cast ballots.

Unaffiliated voters are still turning out in droves. The latest numbers show the bloc’s voters having returned 665,669 ballots.

Another update on ballot returns should come fairly soon from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

— Jesse Paul (Updated 3:09 p.m.)

Jason Crow is having a “low-key” day; Mike Coffman is going nonstop

As if five-term Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, and his Democratic challenger, first-time candidate Jason Crow, weren’t different enough, the two are taking divergent paths on the campaign trail Tuesday.

Crow has spent the day thanking staff and volunteers and spending time with family. “Pretty low-key (to be honest),” his campaign spokesman said.

Coffman, meanwhile, was out with a slate of GOP candidates waving at passing motorists at University Boulevard and Arapahoe Road in Centennial. Among them were gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton and Cole Wist, the House assistant minority leader, who lives in the Denver suburb.

Tyler Sandberg, Coffman’s campaign manager, said the Election Day honk-and-wave has become a kind of tradition.

From there, Coffman was calling voters who hadn’t cast ballots and working on his election night remarks.

The Crow-Coffman race is among dozens of GOP-held districts that will decide which party controls the U.S. House.

— Jesse Paul (Updated 2:50 p.m.)

Colorado GOP chairman tries to calm fears, says “victory is still within reach”

Jeff Hays, chairman of the Colorado GOP, followed up his doom-and-gloom email to the party earlier in the day Tuesday with a reassuring email message: “Victory is still within reach.”

“This year, for the first time in at least several cycles, the Colorado Republican Party made the maximum allowable transfer to our gubernatorial campaign, contributing a bit more than $600,000,” the Tuesday afternoon note said.

Hays added: “There’s more to be proud of. We’ll hash out all of it, successes and failures, in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, know that I appreciate you. I’m proud of you. Most of you have left it all on the field. Win or lose, we, your fellow citizens, are in your debt.”

Republican turnout remains lagging behind 2014 numbers. An update on the number of ballots turned in should be coming relatively soon.

— Jesse Paul (Updated at 2:30 p.m.)

An unaffiliated voter in Arapahoe County says of Mike Coffman: “It’s time for a change”

ARAPAHOE COUNTY — Jon McGuire, 79, cast his ballot at the Southglenn library. He’s registered as an unaffiliated voter, but he says he usually votes for Republicans.

Tuesday, he voted against U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, because “it’s time for him to go.”

Coffman is running against Democrat and first-time candidate Jason Crow.

“I usually vote against the incumbents,” McGuire said. “It’s time for a change.”

McGuire added: “We’ve got guys who have been in Congress for 50 years!”

Larry Ryckman (Updated 1:53 p.m.)

A Centennial woman is motivated by Proposition 112 to vote

Voters line up to drop off their ballots at the Arapahoe County administration building in Littleton Tuesday morning, Nov. 6, 2018. (Tamara Chuang, The Colorado Sun)

LITTLETON — Debi Peters, of Centennial, said that for her, a key motive for voting this year was Proposition 112.

That’s the ballot measure that seeks to increase the distance new oil and gas drilling can be from homes to 2,500 feet. It’s placed activists and the energy industry in a high-stakes, high-dollar battle.

MORE: “It is going to be very messy”: Opposing oil and gas ballot measures respond to Colorado’s contentious drilling climate

“I get irritated with people who move next to an airport and then complain about the noise,” Peters said while heading to drop off her ballot at the Arapahoe County administration building in Littleon. “I’m here to vote ‘no.’”

Her other criticism with this year’s elections were the numerous negative ads.

“One of the problems I have is that we’re trying to teach our children not to bully. Yet the leaders of our country are teaching that it’s okay. You can get farther along if you bully others,” Peters said.

— Tamara Chuang (Updated at 1:46 p.m.)

GOP chairman warns: “Either close that gap or surrender”

The big story so far with the early ballot return numbers has been the GOP turnout, which is lagging significantly behind Republicans’ 2014 numbers.

On Tuesday morning, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays did not mince words in explaining the GOP chances if things didn’t turn around — and fast.

“Today we either close that gap or surrender our state,” he said in an email.

— Jesse Paul (Updated at 12:48 p.m.)

So far, few Election Day problems reported

A pair of internet outages that hit a large section of La Plata County in southwest Colorado threw a wrench into walk-in voting at the county’s three polling places, but patience largely prevailed and inconvenience was kept to a minimum.

The issue is one of the only so far on Election Day. The Colorado Sun, in partnership with ProPublica, is tracking voting problems. Read more here and let us know if you have any issues.

Here’s a bit from Sandra Fish and Kevin Simpson’s report: The first of the two outages came around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and lasted about 20 minutes, said Tiffany Parker, La Plata County clerk and recorder. Shortly after 11 a.m., service went out for another 10 minutes.

The problem meant that poll workers couldn’t immediately verify individuals’ voter registration. “It was definitely something that we couldn’t control,” Parker said. “We offered voters provisional ballots immediately. Nobody was turned away.”

Among the three voting sites, only 14 people voted with provisional ballots. The rest didn’t mind waiting for the internet service to return.

— John Frank (Updated at 12:41 p.m.)

Early vote deadlocked — but Democratic women make presence heard

The early vote numbers through Monday give Democrats a slight lead — about 4,700 votes, or a fractional advantage. So the bottom line is we are about deadlocked.  

Unaffiliated voters continue to show up in droves — about 604,000 through midday Tuesday.

Here’s the breakdown: 33.6 percent Democratic, 33.4 percent Republican and 31.7 percent unaffiliated. The total number of voters is now 1,905,939, according to the latest figures from the secretary of state’s office.

The largest voting bloc is still Democratic women — about 60 percent of the party’s total vote, according to an analysis from Magellan Strategies, a Republican firm analyzing the numbers. This echoes talk about 2018 being more defined by the “pink wave” than the “blue wave.”

— John Frank (Updated 12:45 p.m.)

Things are hopping at Denver polls

Voters cast ballots at Denver’s 14th Avenue and Bannock Street polling station on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

A steady stream of people were dropping off their ballots and casting votes Tuesday morning, about 11 a.m., at downtown Denver’s West 14th Avenue and Bannock Street polling station.

Officials there said it had been that way all morning.

Wolfgang Schuster, 30, was one of those dropping off his ballot. He said he wasn’t driven by the partisan mood nationally, but picked his candidates based off research he did late Monday night. Schuster said he picked Democrat Jared Polis for governor.

“Some of it has to do with universal health care,” said Schuster, who moved to Colorado from Wisconsin in July. “I am definitely biased (on that issue).”

Schuster’s wife has a pre-existing condition, he said, which made Polis an easy choice on the health care issue. Republican Walker Stapleton supports protections for pre-existing conditions — but Democrats are using it nationwide as a cudgel against the GOP this election year.

Jesse Paul (Updated 12:35 p.m.)

A procrastinator in Arapahoe County hopes to rebuke Trump

Larry Ryckman (Updated 12:33 p.m.)

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