Hanlon concedes Senate District 8 race after margin moves to Rankin’s favor
The close race for Colorado Senate District 8 is decided, and incumbent Republican Bob Rankin has won formal election to the seat that he was appointed to fill last year.
His challenger, Democrat Karl Hanlon, called Rankin Thursday morning to formally concede and offer congratulations.
“I got into this race to bring a new voice to rural Colorado and fight for working families on issues that matter to them,” Hanlon said in a message posted to his campaign Facebook page. “I’m really proud of the work my team has done to get us this far and all the supporters throughout the district who believed in a vision of change.
“While I wish the outcome had been different, I remained heartened by the tens of thousands of voters in Senate District 8 who made their voices heard,” Hanlon concluded.
With ballots still being counted Wednesday and early Thursday in the seven counties that make up SD 8, Rankin’s lead grew past the margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.
Vote tallies reported by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, as of just before 9:30 a.m. Thursday, gave Rankin 50.59% of the vote to Hanlon’s 49.41%, with 986 votes separating the two.
As of the Thursday morning report, Rankin had a total of 42,128 votes to Hanlon’s 41,142.
Rankin was not immediately available for comment on his win Thursday mid-morning. The Post Independent will update this story when we are able to reach him.
State law requires an automatic recount if the margin is within 0.5%. The margin between Rankin and Hanlon stands at 1.18% after the latest vote totals.
Senate District 8 includes Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties.
“We knew it was going to be close, especially with 40% unaffiliated voters now in the district,” Rankin said late Wednesday afternoon. “We knew we had to get some of those votes to win.”
Rankin congratulated Hanlon on a “hard-fought campaign,” but decried some of the outside negative advertising directed at him.
“Karl and I had a civil campaign, but there were a lot of negative mailers, and that could have made a difference,” Rankin said of the close election.
Hanlon had taken the early lead Tuesday night based on returns from the mountain resort areas, but the race narrowed as returns came in from the more-conservative western parts of the district.
“This is a district that is really focused on the issues, and is trying to find a way to the candidate who can represent them on the issues that are really important to people,” Hanlon said on election night.
“I had always said when we talked about this race during the campaign that it would come down to a couple hundred votes,” Hanlon added in a follow-up interview on Wednesday.
Returns had Hanlon, from Carbondale, winning in Routt and Summit counties, while Rankin had the edge in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Grand and Jackson counties.
Rankin, also from Carbondale, formerly served nine years in the state House of Representatives. He sought election to the SD 8 seat he was appointed to in January 2019, replacing disgraced former Sen. Randy Baumgardner who retired after sexual harassment allegations and a subsequent investigation.
Rankin defeated Debra Irvine of Breckenridge in the June Republican primary. He serves as the senior member of the Joint Budget Committee.
His wife, Joyce Rankin, won reelection Tuesday to the state Board of Education from Colorado’s Third District over Democrat Mayling Simpson of Steamboat Springs.
Hanlon is a municipal and special district government and water attorney, who currently serves as the contract city attorney for Glenwood Springs.
He and his wife, Sheryl Barto, run the Smiling Goat Ranch, which provides equine therapy services for autistic children and veterans with PTSD.
Hanlon ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2018, losing in the primary to Diane Mitsch Bush. He won this year’s primary for the state senate seat over Democrat Arn Menconi of Eagle.
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On May 17, Moffat County High School acknowledges some of its best and brightest student-athletes for the Class of 2021 with the Lewis “Dude” Dent Memorial Award ceremony.