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Battle for the State Senate

One of the most significant battles in the 2002 election will be for control of the Colorado State Senate. The Democrats’ one-vote majority is at risk due to several retirements and redistricted seats.

The Republicans surprising loss of the state senate in 2000 after 40 years of control was a major set-back for the party and its legislative agenda. Education, transportation, gun control and congressional reapportionment were issues that Democrats were able to influence to the frustration of Republican leadership. Along with being an effective platform for the Democrat position, the state senate also provided a bench of new candidates: Mike Feeley (7th congressional), Stan Matsunaka (4th congressional), Bill Thiebaut (Lt. Governor), and Terry Phillips (treasurer) along with at least two Denver candidates for the May 2002 election.

Nine Republican and eight Democrat senate seats are up in the 2002 election.

Partisanship of State Senate Districts
Nov. 2002
Democrats 18 8 10
Republicans 18 9 8



Eight battleground districts have been identified. Republicans must hold their three seats and win at least one of the Democrat seats. Democrats are trying to pick up seats in rural southern Colorado and Colorado Springs. They must win in their five vulnerable districts. The only battleground seat that has a party primary is District 11 in Colorado Springs. A conservative and moderate Republican are competing and the outcome could influence the party’s chances in November.

Battleground Districts
District Area Who Held Status Early Advantage
District 2 Arkansas Valley Republican Open-redistricted Too close to call
District 3 City of Pueblo Democrat Open-retirement Democrat
District 5 San Luis Valley Republican Incumbent Republican
District 6 Four Corners Democrat Incumbent Too close to call
District 11 Colorado Springs Republican Open-retirement Republican
District 15 Loveland/Larimer County Democrat Open-retirement Republican
District 16 Mountains/Jefferson/Boulder Counties Democrat Incumbent Democrat
District 20 Golden/Wheat Ridge/Jefferson County Democrat Open-retirement Democrat
Ciruli Associates, 2002

The advantage indicated is based on early assessments of the voting behavior of the new districts and the assets and liabilities of the candidates and their respective parties. After the August 13 primary the key races will be reviewed for change.

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