Democrats poised to hold power in the Colorado Senate as Republicans put on the defensive |

Democrats poised to hold power in the Colorado Senate as Republicans put on the defensive

Republicans face shifting demographics and an unpopular incumbent president in Donald Trump who could drag the GOP ticket down

Evan Ochsner / Colorado Sun
The Senate Chamber at the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 8, 2020.
Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun

Republicans in Colorado look unlikely to reclaim the state Senate majority they lost two years ago, observers from both sides of the aisle say, relegating the party to another two years in the background as Democrats control Colorado’s government.

The party is grappling with an election year that forces them to play defense and the unpopularity of President Donald Trump, who could harm down-ballot candidates. Less than three months to the election, GOP lawmakers and candidates say they remain optimistic about their odds, but most acknowledge they are just hoping to hold control of three key swing seats Democrats want to win. 

“Flipping the Senate is going to be a pretty heavy lift,” said Republican strategist Ryan Lynch. “I think the hope out there is that we’re able to maintain the status quo going into redistricting.” 

Republicans need to gain two seats in order to retake control of the upper chamber and disrupt the complete power Democrats have over lawmaking in Colorado. Along with a 19-16 majority in the Senate, Democrats hold a 41-24 advantage in the state House and Gov. Jared Polis isn’t up for reelection until 2022. At best this year, Republicans are looking to regain a couple of House seats they lost in 2018.

In 2018, Democrats seized power and have passed legislation to require employers to provide sick leave, set pollution reduction targets to address climate change, added new police accountability measures and toughened regulations on the oil and gas industry. The party’s lawmakers are pledging to take on other progressive priorities should they remain in control and prioritize increased funding for transportation, education and health care.

“A majority will continue (to) help ensure we will be able to deliver on the types of policies we’ve passed,” Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said in an interview.

In addition to flipping two seats, Republicans need to win every seat they currently hold and stave off Democratic challengers in open seats. It’s a big ask, and some Republicans believe that the party is more likely to have a net loss of one seat than it is to gain any. Democrats said they feel confident about holding the seats Republicans are targeting. 

To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.

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