State Democrats, who gained control of both chambers of the Colorado Legislature in 2004 for the first time in over four decades, are seeking to build on their majority by venturing into territory they've tended to ignore in the past El Paso County.
Of the 10 House and Senate districts in the county that are up for grabs this November, Democrats have launched campaigns in eight, says Raf Naboa, a local Democratic Party activist.
By comparison, they fielded candidates in just five races in 2004.
"Our goal is to run for all 10 this year," Naboa adds. "We're working on that now, but I can't say which potential candidates we're talking to."
In 2004, Republican Sens. Andy McElhany and Ron May, as well as Reps. Dave Schultheis, Richard Decker and Keith King, all sailed to victory unchallenged by Democrats.
But, Naboa says, Democrats now see Republicans as vulnerable on a number of issues, including the rising costs of health care, loss of American jobs, immigration and the war in Iraq.
Naboa adds that the candidates plan to go door-to-door for votes and campaign donations.
Among the eight Democrats launching challenges in various districts are Karen Teja, a former School District 11 board member; Ken Barela, former Fountain mayor; and John Morse, CEO of Silver Key Senior Services.
Keely Marrs, an experienced 35-year-old campaign worker who grew up in Colorado Springs, is facing Schultheis for the Senate District 9 seat being vacated by Doug Lamborn.
"Schultheis is out of touch, and I won't sit on the sidelines and watch anymore," Marrs says, adding that Schultheis is too right-wing for even his own party.
Neither Schultheis nor the El Paso County Republican Party could be reached by deadline.
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