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Legislative Year: 2019 Change

Colorado Eyes & Ears »

The 2018 general election is 15 months away, but more than 100 people already have filed candidacy papers for the House or Senate.

And some of those candidates already are raising big money. As of the most recent filing deadline on July 17, more than $558,000 had been raised by 78 registered House candidates and more than $363,000 by 26 Senate hopefuls. Twenty House candidates have five-digit war chests.

Those totals are likely low. Depending on when they filed their affidavits, some candidates didn’t have to report financial information in July. The next reporting deadline is in mid-October.

A lot of that money is being raised in some developing primary races, particularly among Democrats.

There are 10 intra-party contests shaping up in the House, eight of them on the Democratic side. There are four potential primaries in Senate districts, all involving Democrats.

The hot Democratic House contests are in Denver, in the 4th District being vacated by Rep. Dan Pabon and in the 5th District of Speaker Crisanta Duran, who’s also term limited. Four candidates are seeking Pabon’s seat, including lawyer Amy Beatie, social worker and activist Serena Gonzales-Gutierres, community organizer Michael Kiley and a William Britt.

Contenders in the 5th District are corporate executive Meghan Nutting, businessman Alex Valdez and political organizer Nicky Yollick.

Beatie is the top fundraiser among all House candidates, reporting contributions of $43,644 so far.

Democratic primaries also are shaping up in the 18th, 24th, 26th, 28th, 34th and 50th districts.

Five Democrats are vying in Senate District 32, which stretches across south Denver. Current Sen. Irene Aguilar is term limited.

The candidates are entrepreneur Zach Neumann, activist Robert Rodriguez, lawyer Alan Kennedy-Shaffer and two other political activists, Peter Smith and Lance Wright.

Neumann has reported raised $55,230.  

Expect a lot more candidates to file affidavits in the coming months – there typically are about 250 legislative candidates in any given statewide election. And also expect a lot of individuals to drop by the wayside, particularly when party selection processes start next spring.

But here’s a look at the situation of as Aug. 9:


  • All 65 House seats are up
  • So far at least one candidate has registered in 43 districts
  • There are 78 candidates who’ve filed with the secretary of state, including two unaffiliated, two Libertarians and one from the new Unity Party
  • Thirty-seven incumbents have filed their paperwork; 13 others haven’t done so yet. The other 15 representatives are either term-limited and/or running for other offices.


  • Because senators serve four-year terms, there are only 17 races in 2018.
  • Some 26 people have filed Senate candidacies
  • At least one candidate has filed in 15 districts
  • Four incumbents who are eligible to run haven’t yet filed

Learn about all current House candidates in this spreadsheet. You can sort columns by clicking the small triangles at the top of each column. Learn more about a candidate by clicking his or her name.

Announced House Candidates 2018

Here’s the spreadsheet listing current Senate candidates.

Announced Senate Candidates 2018

But wait, there’s more

We’ve also built a spreadsheet of current candidates for statewide office. It works like the House and Senate databases.

Announced Candidates for Statewide Offices

-- Todd Engdahl


Colorado legislators this session are close to overspending the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, the state account that holds the revenues from the various taxes on cannabis products.

State fiscal analysts estimate that fund will have a net $117.7 million available for spending in the 2017-18 budget year. But marijuana appropriations proposed in the main state budget plus spending proposed in other bills that haven’t yet passed totals $8.6 million more than will be available.

It ultimately will be up to the Joint Budget Committee and the two appropriations committees to exercise some discipline and prevent the marijuana cash fund from being drained. Some bills are going to die.

Debating the annual state budget is a frustrating exercise from the replica watches 94 lawmakers who aren’t members of the Joint Budget Committee. That’s because the budget panel is required to submit a budget package that balances the general fund, the main state account that’s filled primarily by income and sales taxes.

If a lawmaker wants to direct more general fund to a particular program, he or she has to persuade colleagues to trim general fund money from another agency.

So the annual budget gets changed very little as it moves through the House and Senate, usually ending up in much the same form that the JBC proposed in the first place.

The marijuana account is classified as a “cash fund,” meaning it isn’t subject to the same balancing requirements as general fund money. (There are scores of other cash funds scattered across state balance sheets, most of which have specific revenue sources and are supposed to have earmarked uses.)

Frustrated by their inability to tap the general fund for favorite projects, lawmakers often try to raid cash funds. That what’s happened with the marijuana fund this year, in a big way.

A law passed after recreational marijuana was legalized limits tax revenue spending to programs “such as drug use prevention and treatment, protecting the state's youth, and ensuring the public peace, health, and safety.” (That last item means marijuana regulation and law enforcement.)

Lawmakers have used that broad definition to fund a lot of programs, including the Department of Revenue, school health services, drug education, marijuana research and mental health and substance abuse programs of all kinds.

As the 2017-18 budget bill emerged from the JBC, it already contained $79 million in proposed spending from the marijuana fund, much of that continuation and expansion funding for programs that previously had tapped the fund. (Some $61 million is being spent from the fund in the current 2016-17 budget.)

This year’s budget measure, SB17-254, gained another $32 million in marijuana-supported funding as it moved through the Senate and House. Those add-ons included $16.3 million for homeless housing and $8 million in spending on mental health programs.

A separate measure, House Bill 17-1221, would grab another $6 million for grants to local police departments to help them enforce marijuana laws. (That bill has passed both chambers but hasn’t yet been sent to the governor.)

The spending proposed in the budget bill combined with the enforcement measure would leave only $793,462 in the marijuana fund.

But wait – there’s more.

A handful of other bills propose an additional $9.4 million in spending from the marijuana fund, creating the $8.6 million potential hole.

A sidelight to the marijuana spending spree is the fact that one marijuana tax rate is supposed to drop next year. Among several marijuana taxes is what’s called the special sales tax, and it is scheduled to drop from 10 percent to 8 percent on July 1.

The budget committee has drafted a bill that would keep the tax at 10 percent, but that hasn’t been introduced yet.

The marijuana fund problem is just one small element in a big budget stalemate created by lawmaker disagreements over the Hospital Provider Fee, use of mineral tax revenues and school funding.

The House has delayed action on two related budget bills, the provider fee bill is still sitting in a Senate committee and the annual school finance bill, necessary to set district-by-district allocations for 2017-18, hasn’t even been introduced.

Both houses have passed the main budget bill, although it hasn’t yet been sent back to the JBC for resolution of differences between the two chambers.


-- Todd Engdahl

New Colorado lawmakers don’t have much time to prepare for the 2019 General Assembly.  Thirty-two newly elected officials will take new office:  22 in the House and 13 in the Senate.  Five new Senate members move from the House.

About 33 percent of the Democrat-controlled House will be new members and 37 percent of the Democrat-controlled Senate will be new to the Senate, though not new to a General Assembly.  Five new Senators move over from the House.

New House Republicans Mark Paisley from Roxborough Park and Rod Pelton from Cheyenne Wells spent the least on their races at $9381* for Paisley and $19,422* for Pelton. 

House Democrats Kerry Tipper* from Lakewood and Bri Buentello* from Pueblo spent the most on their races at $180,021 for Tipper and $152,740 for Buentello.

Of 65 House races, 62 lawmakers had the most donor money.  Of the three races in which the winner had less money than the opponent, two winners, in Districts 39 and and 58, were incumbents.  The third seat was an open district with a 29+ registration to Republicans.

House District 47 in Pueblo and east was within one point and cost the Democrat winner $152,000 and the Republican opponent $18,000. 

The state Senate races, the contested chamber, were orders of magnitude more expensive than House races.  The most expensive race was SD-16, Tammy Story v. incumbent Tim Neville.  Story won $300,000 more than Neville. 

Three Democrats came in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th for fundraising, from $434,000 at the top to $315,345 at the low.  All three were incumbent state representatives.  Rep. Faith Winter in SD 24 won over Republican Senator Beth Martinez-Humenik, and Reps. Jessie Danielson and Brittany Pettersen defeated their opponents for open seats.

Newly elected individual Democratic winners ginned up over $2.1 million for their races, by far the most in Colorado history.  Democrats in these races typically had a 3:1 dollar advantage over Republicans who relied more on PACs to market their campaigns.

Lists of all 2019 lawmakers will be available in the next couple of weeks when Colorado Capitol Watch sets up for the 2019 General Assembly. 

Now is the time to subscribe to get the full value of what CCW offers.

Men's Watches

Colorado’s political world reported $30 million in expenditures in the first two weeks in October. Independent Expenditure Committees took in $23,286,581 in the same period.

Oil and gas industry funds up in opposition to proposition 112 and for property rights

Protect Colorado, the oil and gas industry main campaign funding arm, took in $6,322,503 from its industry supporters fighting proposition 112 on the 2500 foot drilling setback. Protect Colorado turned over $7,941,811 to the Committee for Colorado’s Shared Heritage in support of amendment 74 that pits property rights owners, especially mineral rights owners, against local governments.

(Photo from Colorado Politics)

Protect Colorado also sent $7,550,000 to PACWEST over the two week reporting period to cover its extensive anti-112 campaign.

Protect Colorado argues that the oil and gas industry supports thousands of jobs, millions in tax dollars, and is performed safely.

Colorado Rising pitches $45,000 to 2500 foot setback in October

Colorado Rising that managed to get Men's Watches enough signatures to put proposition 112 on the ballot showed no IEC contributions and $45,000 in expenditures. Individuals contributed to Colorado Rising, with Jay Hormel, philanthropist donating a total of $95,000 and John Powers $25,000.

The Sisters of St. Francis added $9000. Including non-monetary contributions, Colorado Rising has collected $920,000.

(Photo from Boulder Camera)

Colorado Rising argues that drilling closer than 2500 feet to homes, schools, hospitals and other facilities is dangerous.  It cites fires and explosions that have happened within the last couple of years and health reports that show various toxic agents that occur with hydraulic fracturing are dangerous and cause harm. 

Stapleton has lots, Polis has more

US Rep Jared Polis and the Republican Governors Association continue duking it out over the governor’s race. Polis put another $2 million into his pot. Republican Governors put $1 million into state Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s pot. The Democratic Governors Association offset the Republican Governors with a $1 million contribution to Good Jobs for Colorado, an IEC supporting Polis.

DC entrepreneurs in Sixteen Thirty Fund send out $2 million+

That entrepreneur group out of Washington DC, Sixteen Thirty Fund, has inserted itself in a way on the progressive side that matches Americans for Prosperity on the conservative side. In the most recent two weeks, it pitched $2,105,000 into state campaigns, with $1.4 million to the Democrats’ state Senate races and $500,000 to Save our Neighborhoods opposing the property rights amendment 74 that the oil and gas industry is fighting for.

Voter registrations up for UAFs and Dems and women

All these dollars are trying to persuade registered voters. The latest voter registration numbers show 1,007,948 active Democrats and 979,204 active Republican voters. Unaffiliateds continue to form the largest cohort at 1,236,592. September’s registration numbers show 22,113 new Democrats, 9788 new Republicans, and 56,536 new UAFs.

The gender spread has grown substantially, with 1,670,012 women voters to 1,566,603 men voters. The 100,000 registration difference may indicate why economic arguments have less resonance this year and education and health care have more influence.

The Democratic women to men ratio in three metro area counties, Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson, is likely to determine who runs the state Senate for two years. If Democratic women turn out in numbers that match the women’s march in Denver after President Trump’s inauguration, the Democratic party can thank them for their activism. It was Republican men turning out in large numbers in 2014 that turned the Senate that year.

Colorado’s midterm elections have reached $100,000,000 in total contributions from January to present and expenditures are $110,000,000. These numbers indicate how valuable the election results are and what’s at risk for the losers.

Polis accounts for 20% of midterm money

No individual has exceeded US Rep. Jared Polis’s contributions of $20,515,000 to his own campaign. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has collected $3,216,975 for his campaign committee, Stapleton for Colorado. Other groups are pitching in side money, also known as dark money, to give Stapleton a shot.

The Republican Governors Association has invested ;$3,475,000 in Stapleton and Better Colorado Now has pitched in $2,251,000. The Colorado Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity, a pro business, anti-union organization sponsored by the DC-based Workforce Fairness Institute, has $1,350,000 to help the State Treasurer.

Not to be outdone, however, Polis gets a boost from Good Jobs Colorado at $3,825,5005. That committee recently collected $920,000 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund in DC that helps entrepreneurs advocate for change.

2500 feet drilling setback opposition collects 30% of midterm money

Each campaign for governor is smaller potatoes than what’s going into Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence, aka, Protect Colorado. So far, the energy industry has ginned up $30,339,548.05 against the statutory initiative Proposition 112 to defeat the 2500 feet drilling setback.

The Proposition 112 supporters, Colorado Rising, has collected $706,912.84, with about $600,000 going to gathering petition signatures. It currently has $73,051.62. Protect Colorado still has $10,276,501.

The principal contributors to Protect Colorado are Anadarko at $5 million, Noble Energy at $5 million, PDC Energy at $4 million, Extraction Oil and Gas at $2.15 million, the Colorado Petroleum Council at $1.3 millon, SRC Energy at $1.1 million and DCP Midstream at $1 million. Protect Colorado has sent $2.7 million to the Committee for Colorado’s Shared Heritage, which supports mineral property rights.

Other Amendments and Propositions

The Conservation Colorado Victory Fund with $2,406,000.00 is taking a pass on the 112 proposition to support governor, state House, and state Senate candidates with strong environmental platforms, mostly Democrats.

Two amendments, Y and Z, are getting their share of dollars. Kent Thiry of DaVita has thrown $600,000 into Fair Maps Colorado along with Pat Stryker, who tossed in another $600,000. This is their effort to reduce gerrymandering in redistricting US Congressional seats and the Colorado legislature. Fair Maps has collected $3,930,822.90 and has $1.5 million on hand.

Coloradans for Coloradans is supporting the transportation tax initiative, Proposition 110, with $5,115,526 mostly from business interests that seek an investment in Colorado’s roads, bridges, bike trails, etc. It has $468,680 still in its coffers. It’s competing against Proposition 109 sponsored by the Independence Institute. The Institute’s Fix our Damn Roads committee collected $305,422 and has $1,744 left, but this initiative will fund transportation needs without raising taxes, which the Institute hopes will be more attractive to voters.

The education funding Amendment 73 is getting hit by Blank Check Blatant Deception, a committee sponsored primarily by the conservative business group Ready Colorado run by two Republican politicos, Luke Ragland and Craig Hulse. They’re taking on the education lobby including Great Ed Colorado and the Colorado Education Association. The Amendment affects primarily high income Coloradans and would backfill inadequate education funding over the last decade.

Tammy Story tops all legislative candidates for money

The state Senate races see the same top five fundraisers, all Democrats: Tammy Story at $389,000, Faith Winter at $356,000, Jessie Danielson at $313,000, Brittany Pettersen at $265,000, and Robert Rodriguez at $195,000. The Democrats have raised roughly twice as much as their Republican opponents who have other groups pitching several million their way.

Democratic House candidates are the lead fundraisers in all but one race: Emily Sirota at $145,000, Kerry Tipper at $149,000, Matt Gray at $141,000, Jeff Bridges at $121,000, and Republican Terri Carver at $102,000.

The Colorado House is expected to retain its Democratic majority. The Colorado Senate is up for grabs. Democrats have to grab one seat to regain the majority.

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