DENVER (AP) – With final results of many Colorado legislative races up in the air Thursday, Republicans and Democrats were anxiously waiting to see which party would control the Senate and House.
Democrats have had the majority in both chambers the past two years, allowing them to easily pass many items on their wish-list, including civil unions and lower college tuition for children who grew up in Colorado but are in the country illegally. They’ve also been able to approve more controversial legislation, such as new gun restrictions and an overhaul of the state’s voting laws.
Democrats are optimistic they’ll have at least a one-seat majority in the House, but they’re relying on winning races that could come down to less than a couple of hundred votes.
“As we sit here today, we are very much poised to be able to hold the majority in the state House,” said Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, who is term-limited and won’t be returning in January.
Before Tuesday’s elections, Democrats had a 37-28 majority in that chamber.
Meanwhile, thousands of votes still uncounted Thursday in Adams County could determine control of the Senate.
Democrats currently have an 18-17 advantage there, and they’ve controlled the chamber for a decade. For eight of the past 10 years, Democrats have controlled both chambers of the Legislature.
Democratic Senate President Morgan Carroll said Thursday that based on race tallies so far, the parties are tied 17-17 in the chamber. She said power of the Senate could come down to the race in Thornton between Democrat Judy Solano and Republican Beth Humenik. Solano trailed Humenik by about 1,000 votes, but ballots were still being counted.
Carroll said races in Jefferson County were close enough to trigger mandatory recounts. She said with provisional and overseas votes still to be counted, it’s possible that outcomes for some races won’t be known until Nov. 20, the deadline for election results to be certified.
Sen. Bill Cadman, the Republican leader in the Senate, said in a statement that his party is “anxiously awaiting the final vote counts in several counties and are hopeful that the current leads we have in our Senate districts will stand.”
Split control of the Legislature will make it difficult for either party to drive an ambitious agenda, and it could make a debate next year over hydraulic fracturing even more contentious.
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