Colorado Election News and Results

It’s Election Day!

Colorado Sun reporters, photographers and editors are fanning out across the state today to cover the election.

We’re posting stories about races once they have been called by our partners at The Associated Press or if the outcome will be too close to call on election night. We don’t write about early returns like other news outlets because they can be misleading. Our reporters will be tweeting analysis of the returns in the meantime. And you can follow our Colorado Election 2022 page for up-to-date results from all of the state’s major races and ballot initiatives.

We’re expecting a lot of last-minute ballots this year, especially from Republican voters, which will slow the counting process. While results will start being posted at about 7:30 p.m., it may be quite awhile before races are called. If you have questions, you can send them to us at

Check back regularly to get the latest election results and news.

>> Jump to the bottom to follow from the beginning of the day.

Littwin: How big did Democrats win in Colorado? Just ask Lauren Boebert.

There’s no point in pulling out the thesaurus to find more words for how brutal, how demoralizing, how devastating the night was for Colorado Republicans. Sure, it was a thumping. Yes, it was a shellacking. OK, let’s just call it a bloodbath. It was all of that and more.

Read Mike Littwin on Tuesday night’s results.

Race between Barbara Kirkmeyer, Yadira Caraveo in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District is too close to call

From left: State Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Democrat , and state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer, a Republican. The two are running against each other in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The race in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District was too close to call Tuesday night, as Democrat Yadira Caraveo held a narrow lead over her Republican opponent, Barbara Kirkmeyer. 

Just before 11 p.m., Caraveo, a state representative, had 49% of the vote to Kirkmeyer’s 47%. The Libertarian candidate, Richard Ward, had about 4% of the vote, according to results posted by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. 

Read more.

Amendment F: Measure to update provisions for charitable bingo and raffles fails

Coloradans again voted against a measure that would have modernized a 1958 law that set requirements for nonprofits that run bingo games or raffles for charities and given legislature more regulatory control in the future. 

As of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, Amendment F was set to fail with only 38.9% of the vote, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Because the measure sought to amend the Colorado Constitution, it required at least 55% of the vote to be enacted. 

Read more.

Amendment D: Colorado governor gains right to reassign judges to newly created judicial district

Colorado voters appeared to approve a one-time measure that amends the state constitution to allow judges serving in the 18th Judicial District to transfer to the new 23rd Judicial District, which includes Douglas, Lincoln and Elbert counties.

As of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, about 68% of ballots had been cast in favor of Amendment D, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

Read more.

Amendment E: Colorado’s homestead property tax exemption for Gold Star spouses passes

Colorado’s homestead exemption will now extend to Gold Star spouses, the survivors of U.S. service members who died in the line of duty or of veterans who died as a result of a service-related injury or disease.

The measure passed with almost 88% of the vote as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, exceeding the 55% of voters’ support required. for a constitutional amendment to pass.

Read more.

Colorado mixed on alcohol measures with wine sold at grocery stores too close to call

Coloradans raised their glass to a batch of alcohol-fueled measures on Tuesday but not in favor of passing all of them.  

Voters largely rejected Proposition 124, putting a halt to any plans by large out-of-state liquor-store chains who were eyeing Colorado for a quick expansion. Proposition 126, which would have allowed third-party services like Instacart and DoorDash to deliver alcohol to customers, was losing by nearly 100,000 votes at 11:25 p.m.  

Read more.

Democrats will keep their majority in the Colorado state Senate, blocking GOP foothold at Capitol

Door to the Colorado Senate with lawmakers standing by it
(Photo by Andy Colwell, special to The Colorado Sun)

Democrats blocked Republicans from gaining a foothold of power in the state Capitol on Tuesday by holding onto their majority in the Colorado Senate.

The Colorado House will also remain in Democrats’ possession after Election Day, as expected, meaning that, along with Gov. Jared Polis’ reelection victory, the party will be able to move forward with its policy agenda unimpeded by the GOP for at least two more years. 

Full report.

Elections results too close to call for Proposition 123, a ballot measure to fund affordable housing

Election results for Proposition 123, a ballot measure that would set aside nearly $300 million each year in existing tax revenue to help local governments and nonprofits increase affordable housing units across Colorado, were too close to call on Tuesday night.

At 11 p.m., 50.78% of votes tallied on the Secretary of State website were in favor of Proposition 123, while 49.22% were opposed to the measure.

Read more.

Prop. FF on track to pass, clearing way for new school meals program funded by cutting tax breaks for the wealthy

Colorado public school students will have access to free school meals after voters approved Proposition FF on Tuesday, slashing tax breaks for households that earn more than $300,000 in federal adjusted gross income starting in tax year 2023 to help pay for a new school meals program.

The measure was appearing like it would pass 55% to 45%, according to incomplete returns.

Read more.

Colorado voters poised to cut the state’s income tax rate for the second time in two years

Colorado voters were poised to approve Proposition 121 on Tuesday, slashing Colorado’s income tax rate for the second time in two years. 

At 11 p.m., the measure had a healthy 65% “yes” to 35% “no” cushion. 

The rate will drop to 4.4% from 4.55% starting in tax year 2022 as a result. 

Read more.

Amendment D set to pass: Colorado governor would gain right to reassign judges to newly assigned judicial district

Colorado voters appeared to approve a one-time measure that amends the state constitution to allow judges serving in the 18th Judicial District to transfer to the new 23rd Judicial District, which includes Douglas, Lincoln and Elbert counties.

As of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, about 68% of ballots had been cast in favor of Amendment D, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

Read more.

Colorado voters divided on proposal to legalize “magic mushrooms,” other natural psychedelic drugs

A proposal to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in Colorado was leading by a thin margin late Tuesday. 

About 25,000 votes separated the decision on Proposition 122, with 50.7% supporting the measure and 49.3% against it. About 75% of votes, or 1.7 million, were counted by 10:50 p.m. Neither side had claimed victory.

Read more.

Lauren Boebert’s reelection prospects unclear as Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race remains too close to call

Close ups of Lauren Boebert on the left and Adam Frisch on the right.
Rep. Lauren Boebert and challenger Adam Frisch are seen at their various watch parties.

GRAND JUNCTION — Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s reelection bid in her GOP-leaning 3rd Congressional District was in doubt as her contest with Democrat Adam Frisch remained too close to call on Tuesday. 

Boebert was expected to easily roll over Frisch, but at 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Frisch, a former Aspen city councilman, was leading the controversial congresswoman by about 8,000 votes. Frisch had 52% of the vote compared to Boebert’s 48%.

It was unclear how many more votes were left to count in the 3rd District, which spans the Western Slope and stretches into Pueblo and southeast Colorado. Some Republicans were waiting until the last minute to cast their votes at the recommendation of election conspiracy theorists who said they wanted to prevent tampering with machine counts of ballots. 

Read more.

DeGette, Neguse, Buck, Lamborn and Crow win their Congressional races

The Associated Press has called the following U.S. House of Representatives races:

• Democrat Diana DeGette wins Colorado 1st Congressional District, beating Jennifer Qualtieri. Read more

• Democrat Joe Neguse re-elected in 2nd Congressional District, beats challenger Marshall Dawson. Read more

• Republican Ken Buck wins reelection Colorado’s 4th Congressional District. Read more

• Republican Doug Lamborn wins reelection in Colorado’s 5th District. Read more

• Democrat Jason Crow wins reelection in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Read more

Democrat Phil Weiser wins reelection over Republican John Kellner in Colorado attorney general race

Phil Weiser speaking during a press conference.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser makes a point at a news conference in Denver, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Weiser says a civil rights investigation begun amid outrage over the death of Elijah McClain has determined that the Aurora, Colo., Police Department has a pattern of racially-biased policing. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser won a second term on Tuesday by  defeating Republican John Kellner, the top prosecutor in the 18th Judicial District.

Full report.

Democrat Brittany Pettersen beats Republican Erik Aadland in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District

Brittany Pettersen stands at a podium.
(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Brittany Pettersen, a Democratic state senator who lives in Lakewood, will succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District after defeating Republican Erik Aadland on Tuesday.

Full report.

Democrat Jena Griswold defeats Republican Pam Anderson in Colorado’s secretary of state race

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold gives a victory speech, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Art Hotel in Denver. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold defeated Republican Pam Anderson on Tuesday to win a second four-year term as Colorado’s top elections official.

Full report.

Democrat Dave Young reelected as Colorado treasurer

(Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

Democrat Dave Young was elected to a second four-year term as Colorado’s treasurer on Tuesday, defeating Republican Lang Sias, a former state representative.

Full report.

Why AP called the Senate race for Bennet

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was drawing in higher numbers of votes in many areas than he did during his 2016 campaign — by a margin of as many as 10 percentage points.

That’s what led AP to call the race for the Democratic incumbent on Tuesday over Republican challenger Joe O’Dea.

O’Dea, a first-time candidate, focused his campaign on crime and inflation.

But his position as the rare Republican who backs some abortion rights carved out for O’Dea a unique position. Republicans saw O’Dea as one of their best recruits, although GOP-aligned PACs were slow to spend money on his behalf.

Colorado has been shifting toward Democrats in recent elections, thanks in part to an influx of college-educated voters in the expanding Denver metropolitan area.

— The Associated Press

AP VoteCast offers insight into Colorado vote

About seven in 10 Colorado voters say things in the country are heading in the wrong direction, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 2,700 voters in the state.

About three-quarters of voters say the condition of the economy is either not so good or poor, the survey found, compared with about a quarter who call it excellent or good. About a third say their family is falling behind financially.

The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, also played a role in most voters’ decisions, with about eight in 10 calling it a factor in how they cast their ballot. About a quarter call the court’s overturning of Roe the single most important factor in their vote.

— The Associated Press

Michael Bennet elected to his third U.S. Senate term as Colorado voters reject Republican Joe O’Dea

Michael Bennet stands at a podium
{AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Colorado voters sent Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet back to Washington for a third six-year term Tuesday, rejecting Republican Joe O’Dea, a first-time candidate and Denver construction company owner. 

Read the full report.

Jared Polis easily beats Heidi Ganahl to secure second term as Colorado’s governor

Gov. Jared Polis gives a speech after winning the election, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Art Hotel in Denver. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Colorado voters overwhelmingly reelected Democratic Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday, endorsing his job performance over the past four years and soundly rejecting claims by his Republican opponent, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, that Polis had led the state wildly astray. 

Read the full report.

Voting has ended in Colorado

Cynthia Minnard casts her ballot at Jefferson County’s polling station inside Belmar Library in Lakewood. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Voting has ended in Colorado. 

If you got in line to vote in person before 7 p.m. but are still waiting to cast your ballot, you are still eligible to vote. The Colorado Sun received reports at about 6 p.m. of long lines at polling places in Denver, Boulder and Jefferson County.

However, if your ballot hasn’t been deposited in a drop box already, it’s too late to submit it to be counted. Your ballot must have been in the possession of your county’s clerk by 7 p.m. 

It’s also too late to mail a ballot in for it to be counted. Elections officials recommended that you did that by Nov. 1. Again, your ballot must have been in the possession of your county’s clerk by 7 p.m. 

The first results should be posted starting at about 7:30 p.m. The Colorado Sun will provide live updates on this page — as well as up-to-the-minute results on our Election 2022 page — throughout the night.

— Jesse Paul

Arapahoe County polling sites remain civil amid sharp political division

In the last hour of voting Tuesday, a steady line of cars snaked through the parking lot outside the Arapahoe County Administrative Building, in Littleton. Workers in yellow vests stood curbside ready to take drop-off ballots from voters. Other people headed inside to vote. 

“Okay, signed and sealed,” one man said, passing his ballot through his car window. 

“Take a sticker,” one worker told another voter.

Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder Karl Herrmann said he expected turnout in the county to surpass turnout for the 2018 primary elections, and felt close to the turnout seen for the 2020 presidential elections. 

“It might be close, which is strange,” he said, standing by the curbside dropboxes Tuesday. “Normally we get about 40% to 60% of our ballots on Monday and Tuesday. And we’re already at 31% as of Sunday.”

Despite recent threats to election workers nationwide, the day was “civil,” Herrmann said.

“My anxiety for the day — it wasn’t met, which is great. I was worried and concerned about potential issues that we see going on in the national politics. But it seems like people are being very neighborly,” he said. 

“You’ve seen some people filming,” he said. “People have been casually sitting down and pulling out their cellphones, I’m sure watching and filming us. That’s okay.”

During one past election, there was a man who stood outside with a gun, he said. 

“This is not that,” he said. 

It was harder this year to recruit election workers who are paid and go through training before helping pick up and deliver ballots to the warehouse, helping conduct signature verifications or working on one of the county’s four to five “tent teams” who take drop-off ballots curbside. 

“We lost some people that just decided that it’s not worth it anymore,” Herrmann said. The county, which has hundreds of trained election workers, “did pick up a couple of new people who felt like this was the time to get involved.”

“The climate is what it is,” he added. “People get anxious.”

CJ Tomasetti, who has worked on Republican campaigns and for the Republican National Committee, said he liked that gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl and senatorial candidate Joe O’Dea had business backgrounds.

“She’s a business woman. Love that about her. I’ve met her a couple times. She’s just a badass and I think she would do a better job with the economy here in Colorado and the homeless crisis that we have in Denver than Jared Polis has done,” said Tomasetti, who now works in oil and gas. 

O’Dea, Tomasetti said, is a “moderate Republican. He’s cool with abortion. He’s cool with gay marriage. Fiscally conservative, a little more socially liberal. I like that.”

He considers the Republican candidates he votes for to be the “lesser of two evils” because politicians “just go to Washington and get corrupted and take all the money. They don’t care about us.”

Shannon Najmabadi

Feeding school children, hope for better roads and support for Gov. Polis steer two unaffiliated Westminster voters

Joey Chester, 30, an unaffiliated voter from Westminster, came to the polls Tuesday with at least one thing in mind: school lunches. 

If you’re ready to step up your knowledge about Colorado politics, today’s the day to subscribe to The Unaffiliated, The Colorado Sun’s twice-weekly politics and policy newsletter peeling back the curtain on Colorado politics and policy. We sent today’s edition to all Sun newsletter subscribers as a courtesy because it’s Election Day. 

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Chester, who grew up in Aurora, voted “yes” on Proposition FF, a measure that would create a new school meals program funded by reducing the state income tax deductions that can be claimed by households that earn more than $300,000 in federal adjusted gross income. He said he sees hope in the proposition.

“When I grew up, my mom gave us 40 bucks a month for school lunches, and I got lazy and would just burn it out and then have to make my own lunch finally for the rest of the year. I knew kids that didn’t always get meals, and I know things have gotten worse,” Chester said. 

He added: “I hope it’s going to pass and the people that it’s going to tax are not going to be whiny about it.” 

Chester is also enrolled in the EMT program at Front Range Community College in Westminster. He voted for Gov. Jared Polis because of Polis’ involvement in the Care Forward Colorado program, which was implemented in August and offers tuition-free training for several thousand students, including those interested in becoming emergency medical technicians, providing a much-needed boost to hospitals and clinics. Polis signed the program into law after it was passed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. 

“That was incredibly helpful,” Chester said. “I don’t care anything about his personal life. I could care less as long as things are getting done.”

Keleb Parker, a 31-year-old from Westminster who’s registered as an unaffiliated voter, showed up to the Valley View Innovation School in Denver on Tuesday to vote for education. 

Parker said he wants to see his tax dollars put to better use, which, to him, means making big changes in education so that every kid, no matter how much money their family has, receives an inclusive, quality education. At the top of his mind is ensuring kids with autism are included and receive more assistance than they currently do. 

He said he thinks Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is more likely than Republican challenger Heidi Ganahl to make progress in education. In May, Polis signed into law an act that aimed to ensure school administrators provide students with access to medically necessary services in schools. 

“I’ve been here for almost two years and I’ve liked what he’s done,” Parker said.

Parker is also hoping Polis, who is seeking a second term, will improve transportation throughout the state. In the two years Parker has lived in Colorado, he said he’s gotten two flat tires, a problem he thinks could be fixed, or at least improved, with better roads.

“(I want) better roads, better pavement texture,” said Parker, who used to work at a rental car company. “For it to be very snowy here, it’s very slippery for no reason. I’ve driven so many different cars here. You would think they would be a little more grippy.”

— Delaney Nelson

Denver residents address “magic” mushrooms, big box wine stores, and confusion over whether to retain judges

Tanner Stogsdill, of Denver, poses outside of Nova Church on Downing Street near the corner of East 9th Ave. He voted for all Democrats on Election Day, and said he feels it’s important to vote because he feels it’s important for his voice to be heard, especially at a time where political ads and politicians seem so divided and radicalized. (Tatiana Flowers, The Colorado Sun)

Equity and homelessness were the issues that drove Will Paterson, 40, to cast his ballot for Democrats exclusively when he voted Tuesday at Nova Church in Denver. 

Paterson voted in favor of Proposition 123 on Tuesday morning, which would set aside nearly $300 million annually to increase the number of affordable housing units across the state, if passed. 

“I thought it sounded like it could be incredibly transformative,” he said of the ballot measure. “I think that the dollar amounts there would put us as one of the best states in the country to be able to deal with that issue and I really hope it passes and goes toward providing services for people that need them.”

When ballot initiatives seemed complicated at first glance, Paterson and his wife read voter guides written by the environmental group Conservation Colorado, and a Black-women led voting guide by Soul 2 Soul Sisters, a Denver-based electoral justice program working to increase Black voter registration and turnout.

But Paterson said he struggled to find useful information to help him decide which judges to retain. 

“I was wondering if someone was going to put up a ballot measure in the near future about how to judge the judges,” he said.

Bailey Johnson, 25, did not cast a vote on every ballot measure, because some were too technical, and confusing, she said. “I want to be an informed voter,” she said, “So if I don’t know what they’re talking about, I’m not going to vote on it.”

Johnson voted in favor of Proposition 122, which if passed would create natural medicine healing centers where people could use psychedelic mushrooms, because she supports decriminalizing psychedelic drugs. 

Johnson, a nurse, said research shows psychedelics can be used responsibly to treat mental health conditions and that more access to different kinds of therapy is necessary, especially as people are still struggling with their mental health, after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need to open it up, so that more people can use it if they choose,” she said of the drugs.

Johnson said she was excited yet also exhausted when she showed up to the Nova Church polling center in central Denver on Tuesday. 

“Being able to vote is really awesome,” she said. “And being able to have a say in what’s going on, I was excited about that part. But it has been a really tough two years, especially, while I was a nurse during COVID. But I was more excited, because I want a change, and that was the direction in which I voted for.”

Tanner Stogsdill, a 30-year-old Denver man, said he votes every year because he feels it’s important for his voice to be heard.

Stogsdill voted against Proposition 124, which if passed, would allow retail liquor store owners to open more locations.

Stogsdill, who recently moved to Denver, said when he lived in Texas big box retail wine stores like Spec’s Wine and Total Wine, a major funder of the campaign in favor of the measure, had dominated the market. Stogsdill, a loyal customer to several small mom-and-pop Denver liquor stores, said he appreciates the small-town feel at those stores, where local employees are friendly and attentive. 

He’s interested in supporting small businesses, which could lose money if Proposition 124 passes and larger retailers are able to expand, he said.

— Tatiana Flowers

One voter in Colorado Springs struggles with how to vote on slashing Colorado’s income tax rate

COLORADO SPRINGS — Brian Sundermeyer, a Republican voter in Colorado Springs, said he voted for all Republican candidates on this year’s ballot, but considered both sides before casting his vote Tuesday afternoon at the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in northern Colorado Springs.

“I do watch after I vote and when people take office, what they do with that,” said the 52-year-old defense contractor who served 17 years in the military. “I think it is a privilege to serve in the military and in office if people elect you and they should know that they are being watched. ‘OK, you got the privilege to serve, now let’s see what you do with it.’”

He said he found it difficult to vote on Proposition 121, which asks Coloradans to decide whether to cut the income tax rate. 

“Lowering the income tax level sounds great because you pay less and everybody wants that, especially in a current recession, an ongoing recession, or at least in these inflationary times. However, it takes money to run things in government. Coming out of the military, it isn’t cheap,” Sundermeyer said.

“It costs a lot of money to do the things we did well in the military. You can’t want to pay nothing and think somehow all of that is still provided.” 

Serving in the military, including six years of active duty in countries that do not give citizens the right to vote, motivates him to participate in every election, he said. 

“I served for the chance to vote. I have been in countries where that is not as prevalent or guaranteed, so I exercise my right to vote.

Olivia Prentzel

In photos: Scenes from polling places around Colorado

Ned Walker and Jeanne Walker drop their ballots. (Kelsey Brunner, Special to The Colorado Sun)
A woman waits to vote at the polling station inside Summit County’s South Branch Library in Breckenridge. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)
Voters await to cast their ballots at the polling station inside the Silverthorne Pavilion. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)
Silverthorne resident Halina Pajak casts her ballot at the Silverthorne Pavilion. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)
Voters cast their ballots at Augustana Lutheran Church in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

— Kelsey Brunner, Hugh Carey and Olivia Sun

Colorado voter turnout remains down from 2018, 2020 levels with just a few hours left until polls close

A graphic from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office showing voter turnout as of 12:30 p.m. on Election Day compared to the turnout at the same point in the election cycle in 2020 and 2018. (Screenshot)

Voter turnout this year in Colorado remains well below 2020 and 2018 levels with just a few hours left before polls close at 7 p.m. 

As of 12:30 p.m., about 1.9 million ballots had been cast, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. At the same point in the 2018 election, the last midterm in Colorado, 2.4 million ballots had been cast. 

Both Democrats and Republicans have been working hard to turn out their voters this week, though unaffiliated voters, who make up 46% of the state’s electorate, are dominating ballot returns.

More than 725,000 unaffiliated voters had cast ballots as of 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, compared to 583,000 Democrats and about 540,000 Republicans. 

There’s still time to vote. As long as you are in line at an in-person polling place or drop off your ballot by 7 p.m. you can have your voice heard. 

— Jesse Paul

On Election Day, going with who you know is a good feeling for one Aspen voter

A woman drops her ballot off at a dropbox on Election Day while her dog holds a frisbee.
Lizzie Cohen drops off her ballot to at the Pitkin County Government building alongside her voting buddy, Nala, in downtown Aspen, CO on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/Special to The Colorado Sun)

ASPEN — Lizzie Cohen, an Aspen local, made a stop Tuesday morning during a walk with her 12-year-old dog Nala to drop off her ballot at the Pitkin County building in downtown Aspen.

Cohen is hoping her friend Adam Frisch can unseat Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert in the 3rd Congressional District. Cohen, 39, has lived in Aspen for nine years and was here when Frisch served two terms on the Aspen City Council starting in 2011. Cohen said she helped Frisch’s campaign when he ran for mayor in 2019. 

“It’s not so much against Lauren as it is for Adam,” said Cohen, who works for a private equity firm. “He’s a great person and a great leader, and wife works in local politics. They have such a wonderful family.” 

Frisch is set to have his watch party Tuesday at the BellyUp venue in Aspen.

Cohen said she typically votes her party line as a Democrat, but this year also voted for a few libertarian candidates. She was more concerned about the local questions, which in Aspen includes a potential tax on short-term rentals and the Pitkin County sheriff’s race. Cohen said she again went with the candidate she knows and likes. She voted for incumbent Joe DiSalvo, who has been sheriff since the 2010 election and has worked in the city and county for nearly 40 years.

“Joe’s part of the old guard,” she said, “and we’re missing more and more of that here.”

David Krause

Unaffiliated voters explain why they are voting for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea

Joe O'Dea speaks at JJ's Place in Aurora
Republican Joe O’Dea, candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks to a crowd at JJ’s Place in Aurora during a rally the night before the election Nov. 7. (Elliott Wenzler, The Colorado Sun)

AURORA — Attendees at a rally for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea on Monday night in Aurora called the election a chance for much-needed change.

Karla Murphy, 59, of Aurora, is unaffiliated but said she felt compelled to vote for Republicans this year: “I have to.”

“It’s high gas prices, high groceries and all our energy costs are going up,” she said. “It’s not a Republican-and-Democrat thing, it’s survival for the middle class.”

Centennial resident Sharon Evans, 68, agreed that it’s time for new leadership.

“So many things are not going how we want them to go for a long time, especially the economy and inflation,” she said.

Evans, who owns a security company in Aurora with her husband, voted only for Republican candidates this year despite being registered as an unaffiliated voter.

“Small businesses, we feel like at every turn we have been overloaded with regulations and taxes,” she said.

Mike Wafer, 60, a Republican from Centennial, said he would like to see the U.S. become less dependent on other countries. 

“The obvious issues are the economy and crime but for me, it’s the border and energy independence,” Wafer said. 

The rally was held at JJs Place, a restaurant and bar, and featured speeches from Republican secretary of state candidate Pam Anderson and attorney general candidate John Kellner.

O’Dea, a first-time candidate running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, also addressed the crowd, saying he wants to be a voice for working Americans and small business owners while supporting the state’s oil production. “We should be drilling right now,” he said.

O’Dea also criticized Democratic President Joe Biden.

“A vote for Joe O’Dea is a vote to end Joe Biden’s tenure,” he said. “I love this country and we can’t watch it go in the toilet with Joe Biden.”

Elliott Wenzler

How two Western Slope residents decided who to vote for

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Megan Percy, a 25-year-old Glenwood Springs resident, said she supported Democrat Adam Frisch in the 3rd Congressional District race. “Get Boebert out of here,” she said of Lauren Boebert, the Republican incumbent. 

Percy, an unaffiliated voter who works in the solar energy field, said she hoped Democrats would be able to keep control of Congress, even though she’d seen polling that suggested the party is at risk of losing control of both chambers nationally. 

“I think there’s a lot at stake,” Percy said, speaking to The Sun outside the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in downtown Glenwood Springs. “A lot of things have already been put at risk in the last two years.”

Percy said she also voted to give Democratic Gov. Jared Polis another term. 

Ruby Clyburn, a 21-year-old Democrat who lives in Rifle, said the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this year was very concerning — and was at the top of her mind when she cast her ballot for this election.

Clyburn, who works as a server at the Smoke Modern Barbecue restaurant in downtown Glenwood Springs, said she spent a significant amount of time researching candidate positions on women’s rights and only voted for those who she felt had a strong record on the issue.

“It’s just scary right now what’s going on with women’s rights,” Clyburn said.

— Chris Outcalt

Nearly $30 million pours into battle over Colorado’s booze initiatives

Groups supporting three statewide ballot measures that would change Colorado’s laws around alcohol sales spent $30 million through Oct. 26 to woo voters.

Coloradans for Consumer Choice and Fairness topped the spending at $13.3 million. The group supported Proposition 124, which would allow liquor retailers to eventually open an unlimited number of stores. Most of the committee’s money came from Colorado Fine Wine & Spirits, a subsidiary of the national retail liquor chain Total Wine & More.

Wine in Grocery Stores spent $13 million. The group supported Proposition 125, which would allow wine sales in grocery and convenience stores starting next year, and Proposition 126, which would indefinitely continue to-go sales and delivery of cocktails by restaurants. Proposition 126 would also let third-party delivery services, like Uber Eats and DoorDash, deliver alcohol. 

That committee received $4.8 million from Instacart, $3.7 million from DoorDash and $1.7 million from Whole Foods, as well as money from other retailers.

Other issue committees supporting statewide ballot measures spent considerably less money.

Natural Medicine Colorado spent $4.5 million through Oct. 26 in support of Proposition 122, which would legalize possession of “magic mushrooms.” New Approach PAC and the Center for Voter Information donated $1.2 million each to the committee.

— Sandra Fish

Which Colorado state-level races Democratic and Republican groups have spent the most on

Democratic political groups have outspent their Republican counterparts on the major state-level statewide race and in the battle for the state House. In the contest for control of the Colorado Senate, Republican groups are leading the campaign cash game, but not by much.

In the race for governor, Democratic groups reported spending nearly $6 million compared with the roughly $2.7 million spent by Republicans through Sunday.

The Senate District 24 contest in Arapahoe County between Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan and Republican businessman Tom Kim is the second most expensive state-level race when it comes to outside spending. Democrats have spent $3.1 million on the contest, while Republicans have spent $2.3 million. Of the Democratic spending, $1 million came from Everytown for Gun Safety via former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The money went toward TV ads opposing Kim.

In the attorney general race, Democrats have outspent Republicans, at nearly $2.9 million to $1.7 million. Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser is running for reelection against Republican John Kellner, the top prosecutor in the 18th Judicial District.

Sandra Fish

Abortion, guns are the focus of two women casting ballots in Highlands Ranch

A woman's feet are crossed as her face is hidden while she votes on Election Day
A voter at the booth inside the Silverthorne Pavilion, Tuesday morning, Nov. 8, 2022, in Silverthorne. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Marisa Neyenhuis, a Democrat from Highlands Ranch, had two local school funding measures at the top of her mind as she dropped off her ballot Monday night. The mom of four kids voted yes on both, in the hopes of more funding for Douglas County classrooms and teachers. 

Neyenhuis, who said she spent a significant amount of time researching each candidate and ballot measure, was also conscientious about supporting candidates who are in favor of gun restrictions and who do not spout conspiracy theories. 

“I don’t vote for people who adhere to conspiracy theories or are Trump supporters,” said Neyenhuis, 38. “Those guys are just a hard no for me.” 

She voted for Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, both incumbent Democrats, and for the unaffiliated candidate for Douglas County sheriff, Michael Phibbs, who supports Colorado’s so-called red flag law that allows judges to order the temporary seizure of guns from people in mental health crisis. 

“He’s level-headed about gun laws and in favor of a red flag law, which is something I believe we need,” Neyenhuis said. 

She voted against a measure to legalize psychedelic mushrooms, saying that while she believes psilocybin is safe, the other substances mentioned in the measure — ibogaine, from the root bark of an iboga tree; mescaline, which is from cacti; and dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, a natural compound found in plants and animals — need more study.

Holly Burch, an unaffiliated voter in Highlands Ranch, said the biggest issue on her mind as she cast her ballot was the fall of Roe vs. Wade, which provided a constitutional right to an abortion in the United States. “I think that women have to have a right to choose what is right for their bodies,” said Burch, a retired software engineer. 

In the race for U.S. Senate, Burch chose GOP challenger Joe O’Dea over Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet after watching a video in which O’Dea’s daughter said her father supports a women’s right to choose. O’Dea believes abortions should be legal through 20 weeks of pregnancy, after which the procedure should be allowed only in cases of rape and incest or when a mother’s life is at risk, his campaign previously told The Sun. 

Bennet supports legislation prohibiting government restrictions on abortion access and was endorsed by abortion rights groups. 

— Jen Brown

Democrats hit college campuses ahead of Election Day. Here’s what students had to say.

Jared Polis talks to DU student
Gov. Jared Polis talks with Ethan Turner, right, 19. Turner, a freshman at the University of Denver, asked the Governor about water policy in the state during the Nov. 7 campaign event on the campus Elliott Wenzler / Colorado Sun

A group of Democratic candidates for statewide office, including Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, spent Monday on college campuses in Denver and Boulder talking to students and urging them to vote. 

“There’s a lot of reasons to be frustrated if you’re a college student in America today,” Bennet said at the University of Denver campus. “The student debt people are having to carry to get through school, uncertainty about if there’s room in this economy for you when you graduate or if you’ll end up living in your parents’ basement.”

We talked with some students about what issues they’re concerned about:

  • “(Republican gubernatorial candidate) Heidi Ganahl saying she wants to get rid of the state income tax is definitely concerning,” said Jackson McFadyen, 24, a graduate student at the University of Denver. “Even though she doesn’t have the ability to do that, people who want to perpetuate that idea will eventually gain momentum.”
  • “I think the biggest things for students are going to be homelessness, affordability and the issues of Roe v. Wade,” said James Vargas, 23, a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver and registered Democrat.
  • Viviana Martinez, 20, after meeting with Polis: “I wanted to thank him for his public standing for women’s rights. I think that’s really important, especially in the present day.”
  • “Water specifically is something I’ve been thinking a lot about,” said Ethan Turner, 19, a freshman at the University of Denver and a registered Democrat. “It seems dumb that I have to say this, but it’s a fundamental resource and why we don’t seem more worried about the fact that we’re running out of it and we’re not managing it correctly — that seems crazy to me.” 
  • “I just hope my people back home are getting representation,” said Sergio Jaquez-Caro, 18, an unaffiliated voter and a freshman at University of Denver from the Western Slope. “I just hope despite (U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s) beliefs they’re still about to get the representation that small communities need.”

Will the 2022 elections be more like 2014 or 2018 for Colorado Democrats?

John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet stand in front of a crowd ahead of Election Day.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, left, embraces U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, both are Colorado Democrats, at rally at Wynkoop Brewing in downtown Denver on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser stood before a group of Democrats at Wynkoop Brewing Company in downtown Denver on Saturday evening and warned them not to be complacent in the final days before the 2022 election.

“A lot of people here have forgotten 2014,” Weiser said. 

That was the year, Weiser said, that then-Gov. John Hickenlooper was up until 4 a.m. before he knew he had won by a slim margin. It was also the year Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall lost his reelection bid to Republican Cory Gardner, and every down-ballot Democrat running for major statewide office lost their race.

“We need to recognize that what we had in 2018 and 2020 is not something we’re entitled to,” Weiser said of the last two election cycles, which were big successes for Colorado Democrats. “We have to work for it.”

What happens on Election Day could say a lot about Colorado’s political trajectory. Will the result look like 2014, the midterm when Democrats suffered a laundry list of defeats? Or will they look more like 2018, when Democrats seized more power in Colorado than they’d had since 1936?

Midterm elections are always tough for the party in the White House. In 2014, Democrat Barack Obama was president. In 2018, Republican Donald Trump was president. Now the president is Democrat Joe Biden.

But there are a few big mitigating circumstance to keep in mind as we head into election night:

  • Polling in the 2014 gubernatorial and Senate races indicated both were a tossup. That’s not the case this year. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet have comfortably led their opponents in nearly every reliable poll. 
  • The electorate was very different in 2014. In November 2014, there were about 1 million fewer active registered voters than there are now, including about 60,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. There are now more registered Democrats than Republicans — about 118,000 more — with unaffiliated voters making up the largest share of voters, at 46% of the electorate.
  • All of the Democratic candidates in the down-ballot races statewide races this year — attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer — are incumbents. The only incumbent running in one of those races in 2014 was Republican Walker Stapleton, who won a second term as treasurer. (The GOP won the races for attorney general and secretary of state eight years ago, too.)
  • If Republicans are going to win today, they’re likely going to have to rely on voters splitting their tickets — backing both GOP and Democratic candidates. That’s because if recent polling is correct, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is leading his Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl by a wide margin, possibly double digits, at the top of the ballot. And while Colorado voters have split their tickets in the past, it’s been decades since there has been such a wide variation in the results.

The national mood is working against Colorado Democrats, which is why the GOP is hopeful. Pollsters say the mood has shifted toward Republicans at the perfect time for the GOP, particularly because of rising economic concerns.

We caught up with Hickenlooper, now a U.S. senator, at the Wynkoop event and asked about what it’s like to run as a Democrat in Colorado in a tough midterm election year. He said he’s feeling confident about his party’s chances on Election Day because “we’ve got unbelievably strong candidates.”

Hickenlooper said people shouldn’t read too much into the politics of Colorado if Democrats win big. “It’s always gonna be purple,” he said. “You need good candidates and you need people that are pragmatic. You got to be pro-business. (Democrat) Roy Romer, when he was governor — he did three terms — he used to say ‘quality of life starts with a good job.’ It still does.”

If Democrats lose, “it means we haven’t done a good enough job communicating what we’ve done for the state.” 

— Jesse Paul

Republican voters are waiting until the 11th hour to vote

Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer, a state senator running to represent Colorado’s 8th Congressional District, speaks to voters Monday at a diner in Brighton. “It used to be Republicans were the first ones in,” Kirkmeyer said. “That’s flipped.” (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Republican voters are waiting until the last minute to drop off their ballots and that’s stoking some anxiety among GOP candidates and officials. 

In past midterm elections in Colorado, Republicans have turned in their ballots earlier than Democrats. This year, the opposite is happening, in part because of lingering conspiracy theories about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. 

“Day-of voting, in-person, blue pen, fresh paper ballot is where it’s at,” Sherronna Bishop, a Western Slope resident and ally of indicted Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, said over the weekend on her podcast. “That’s at least one thing we can be doing so that we don’t give away how many ballots they need to have in order to overcome who we vote for as our governor, as our secretary of state.”

Kristi Burton Brown, chairwoman of the Colorado GOP, says that while some county parties have been telling Republicans to wait until the last minute to cast their ballots, the state party has been encouraging the opposite.

“You don’t know if your kids are going to have the flu or there’s going to be a snowstorm on Election Day,” she said. 

But Burton Brown pointed out that while fewer Republicans had submitted their ballots as of Monday morning, the GOP turnout rate among registered Republicans in Colorado was on par with the turnout rate for Democrats — both were at 41%. The rates are the same because although fewer GOP voters had turned in ballots, there are fewer registered Republicans than Democrats in Colorado — 940,970 active registered Republicans compared with 1,058,592 active registered Democrats as of Nov. 1.

“We would have to beat (Democrats) by 7.5 (percentage points) in turnout to tie them in numbers,” she said. “I honestly don’t think we’ll quite get there.” That means the GOP will have to get even more support from unaffiliated voters, who make up 46% of the electorate, to win Tuesday.

Ballot returns by party affiliation as of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, which produced this graphic. Turnout is way down from 2020 and 2018.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea said he thinks GOP voters will come through in the end. “They’re fired up. They’re gonna turn out,” he said Monday as he cast his ballot in Greenwood Village. 

O’Dea said the $2 million he gave to his campaign in the home stretch was aimed at boosting turnout. “We got to get people to turn out, that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re working hard on it.”

State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, the Republican candidate in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District, said the late GOP turnout “means the vote count comes in a little bit later.”

“But that’s OK,” she said. “We’re going to call them and tell them they gotta go get their vote in.”

MORE: Kirkmeyer, speaking at a town hall Monday in Thornton, doubled down on a false claim in a recent TV ad about her opponent, Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, voting for a bill legalizing fentanyl. (A 2019 bill passed by the legislature made personal-use possession of up to 4 grams of fentanyl a misdemeanor, while a 2021 measure made it a felony to possess one or more grams for personal use and increased penalties for dealers. Caraveo voted for both.)

“I know you probably have all heard what a horrible person I am because I said that they legalized fentanyl,” said Kirkmeyer, who voted against the 2021 bill and wasn’t a state lawmaker in 2019. “People should actually read the law.”

She said a provision in the 2021 bill offering prosecutorial immunity to people who report an overdose is “essentially legalizing fentanyl.” 

“If you’re not going to get arrested for killing someone by pushing poison on them, that’s essentially legalizing fentanyl,” she said. “Go look up the definition of legalize. That’s what I’m going to tell (9News anchor) Kyle Clark.”

— Jesse Paul

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