Primary election results tell an interesting story


By now, most Coloradans who follow politics know that the incumbent Democrats in all the top statewide elected offices will face Republicans who generally sound like traditional GOP candidates. There were three more extreme candidates who often repeated conspiracy theories in the GOP primary, but Republican voters, with likely help from a significant number of the state’s unaffiliated voters, cleared the way for the more traditional Republicans. 

Although we don’t know the exact voter turnout by party for the whole state yet, total voter turnout was 32% of active voters. We know that in Arapahoe County, 40% of registered Republicans turned out. If that statistic is applicable statewide, it would mean that 39% of the votes cast in the Republican primary for U.S. senate statewide were supplied by unaffiliated voters. 

In the race for governor, incumbent Jared Polis (D) will be challenged by CU Regent and founder of Camp Bow Wow Heidi Ganahl (R), along with former GOP candidate who is running under the banner of the American Constitutional Party (AC), Danielle Neuschwanger, and five other lesser-known challengers. Another former GOP gubernatorial candidate, Darryl Gibbs, is also running under the AC label for lieutenant governor. Major party candidates for Colorado governor choose their running mates. Polis is expected to stick with current Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. Ganahl has not yet announced a running mate.

Incumbent Attorney General Elliot Weiser (D) will face 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner (R) and William Robinson (L) in the November general election. Incumbent Treasurer Dave Young (D) will be up against former State Rep. Lang Sias (R) and Anthony Delgado (L). Incumbent Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) will be running against former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson(R), Bennett Rutledge (L), Amanda Campbell (AC), and two other lesser-known candidates.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Michael Bennet (D) is running for a third six-year term against heavy construction contractor Joe O’Dea (R), in his first bid for elective office. Also on the ballot is Brian Peotter (L), along with three others.

In the race for the State Board of Education, there are four candidates for the at-large seat being vacated by Ganahl, including Kathy Plomer (D) and Dan Maloit (R).

In CD6, incumbent State Board of Education member Rebecca McClellan (D), who has served since 2017 and was formerly a member of the Centennial City Council, is being challenged by political newcomer Molly Lamar (R). 

Kellner, a Republican, is in the middle of his first four-year term as DA. If he is elected Attorney General, it will be up to the governor to name his replacement. If Kellner is elected and Polis is re-elected, it is likely that the second half of Kellner term as 18th Judicial DA will be completed by a Democrat.   

Arapahoe County

In Arapahoe County, there were multiple primary races in the GOP for the top elective offices in the state and almost none on the Democratic side for statewide offices. So, it is no surprise that one-third (approximately 18,000) of the just over 54,000 votes cast in Arapahoe County in each of the two biggest GOP primary races, for governor and U.S. Senator, came from unaffiliated voters. Although we can’t know for whom those unaffiliated voters cast their ballots, we know that in the race for governor in Arapahoe County, Heidi Ganahl, who won the primary, bested Greg Lopez by 9,773 votes, and in the race for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Arapahoe County, Joe O’Dea bested Ron Hanks by 11,480 votes.

There were primaries that included Arapahoe County partially or totally on the Democratic side in HD42, where Mandy Lindsay prevailed over Gail Pough. In County Commissioner district four, Democrats choose Leslie Summey to be their candidate over Regina Edmondson.

There were primaries that included Arapahoe County partially or totally on the Republican side in CD4, where incumbent Ken Buck beat back challenger Robert Lewis decisively. In SD27, Tom Kim bested JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin. Mark Gotto got more votes than Jason Presley for the GOP nomination for County Commissioner district two.

Voter turnout in Arapahoe County was pretty much as expected during an off-year primary election with the candidates on the ballot; 40% of Republicans participated in the primary, compared to 31% of Democrats and 21% of unaffiliated voters. Of the total number of citizens casting ballots, 52% were female and 48% were male. As is common, more than half the votes cast were by voters over the age of 60. 

Douglas County

By far, the most interesting race was for Douglas County Sheriff, because it drew four Republican candidates and zero Democrats. Current Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas came in last, drawing only 14% of the 58,733 votes cast. Former Douglas County Undersheriff Holly Kluth came in third with 18% of the votes. Darren Weekly, who had the support of outgoing Sheriff Tony Spurlock, who was term-limited, won the race with 34.5% of the total votes cast, besting John Anderson, a retired command officer, who took second place, by only 646 votes.