Partisan primaries in Colorado’s statewide and congressional elections are soaking up much of the attention this spring. But there will be plenty of fascinating — and important — legislative primaries decided on June 28.
Much of the legislative action is on the Republican side in the House, where there are 14 competitive contests. That compares with six Democratic House primaries, two Republican Senate primaries and one Democratic Senate primary contest.
Incumbents are facing challenges in five of the GOP primaries and one Democratic race.
Here’s our list of the top legislative primaries to watch next month:
- House District 6: Democrats Katie March, a longtime political operative, and Elisabeth Epps, a criminal justice activist, are vying to replace House Speaker Alec Garnett, a Democrat from Denver. The winner of the primary likely will win the general election in this Democratic district in central and east Denver.
- House District 21: First-term GOP state Rep. Mary Bradfield’s supporters successfully filed a lawsuit to force a redo of the House District 21 GOP assembly vote that initially kept the incumbent off the ballot. Bradfield, who lives in Colorado Springs, made it onto the GOP primary ballot on her second attempt, and will face Karl Dent, who is on probation for felony trespassing. Whoever wins the primary will assuredly win the general election in this Republican district.
- House District 25: Republican state Rep. Colin Larson faces his third consecutive primary challenger. This time the Ken Caryl lawmaker faces Dede Wagner, a retired teacher who lives in Indian Hills. The winner of the GOP primary will face state Democratic Sen. Tammy Story, who was drawn out of her Senate seat, in the general election. The district is a tossup.
- House District 51: House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, is being challenged by Austin Hein in a grudge match. Hein is a former staffer for former House Republican Leader Patrick Neville. He also has worked for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Defeating McKean in his GOP district appears to be RMGO’s top 2022 priority. There is no Democrat running in the district.
- House District 57: Elizabeth Velasco, a Glenwood Springs resident and the daughter of immigrants, is facing Cole Buerger, who also lives in Glenwood Springs and dropped out of the 3rd Congressional District race, in a Democratic primary race in a Roaring Fork Valley-centered district that now overwhelmingly favors Democrats. Whoever wins will take on Republican Rep. Perry Will, of New Castle, who is likely to be ousted from his seat after one term because of redistricting.
- Senate District 9: Republican state Sen. Paul Lundeen, of Monument, will face Lynda Zamora Wilson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. The district leans heavily toward the GOP.
- Senate District 11: Democratic state Rep. Tony Exum faces Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Yolanda Avila for the opportunity to take on GOP Sen. Dennis Hisey, who moved into the tossup district after redistricting, in November.
- Senate District 27: First-time candidate Tom Kim, an Arapahoe County business consultant, and JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin, a former Aurora Public Schools board member, will face off in the Republican primary to challenge Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan, of Aurora.
- House District 42: State Rep. Mandy Lindsay, an Aurora Democrat, was appointed to this seat early this year to replace former Rep. Dominique Jackson, who took a job in the Biden administration. But Lindsay faces former City of Aurora employee Gail Pough in a primary in this solid Democratic seat.
- House District 63: Incumbent state Rep. Richard Holtorf, of Akron, faces Republican primary challenger and Eckley Mayor Jessie Vance. There is no Democrat in the contest.