Tuesday, November 8, 2016

GOP surge reflects in local returns

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 7:16 PM

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Updated at 8:50 p.m.

The election drama made for a long night in many places around the country, but not so much in Colorado Springs.

As soon as the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office released its first results Tuesday night from ballots returned early, virtually every local and state outcome was clear.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet jumped to a lead over Republican challenger Darryl Glenn at the state leve and eventually secured a second term, despite Glenn easily carrying El Paso County. Meanwhile, Rep. Doug Lamborn instantly wrapped up a sixth term in the U.S. House with a one-sided lead over Democrat Misty Plowright.

Likewise, most contested local races were clearly decided from the first returns, released minutes after the polling places closed at 7 p.m.

State Rep. Pete Lee won a fourth and final term in the Colorado House, while Democrat Tony Exum regained the seat he held from 2012-14 in his race against GOP incumbent Kit Roupe.
At the downtown multi-party celebration at The Antlers hotel, Exum talked about going door to door and being inspired by many he encountered, including a young child who recognized him from a campaign mailer.

Roupe insisted that "I will be back," and jokingly referred to HD 17 being able "to change parties every two years."

Republicans won all other seats in the region, as well as Stan VanderWerf and Longinos Gonzalez in the two contested county commissioner races against Democrats Electra Johnson and Liz Rosenbaum.

"I will work with anybody, seriously anybody, who wants to help solve community problems," VanderWerf said after winning his first attempt at public office. "I will enjoy working with everyone and I hope to make it fun."

Johnson, who hoped to become the first Democratic county commissioner in El Paso County since 1970, was buoyant. "I didn't put any expectations into this," she said. "Could we pull off magic? Who knows? But we made it hurt for the Republicans. I want to make it hurt for every single race from now on. We [Dems] haven't run a campaign in a really long time. ... I'm not done yet."

Gonzalez said, "I did work hard for both the primary and general election," admitted he was exhausted from the campaign and said he didn't want to talk further. Rosenbaum said she was satisfied with her first run for office and promised to try again in the future.

"The only thing I'm really sad about," she said, "is that I'm afraid the water issues will be dropped."

In the presidential race, despite underperforming nationally, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried Colorado, though her total of 33 percent in El Paso County fell short of President Barack Obama's support levels of 39 percent in 2008 and 37 percent in 2012.

As for the statewide ballot measures, the ColoradoCare single-payer health insurance plan (Amendment 69) was headed to an obvious defeat, trailing by 170,000-plus in El Paso County alone and by as much as 80-20 percent statewide.

But Amendment 71 (making it harder to change the Colorado Constitution) was approved and carried El Paso County. Also, Amendment 70 (raising the minimum wage) passed despite losing here. And the three state propositions also passed: 106, allowing assistance in dying for the terminally ill; 107 and 108, open primaries including a presidential primary for Colorado.

J. Adrian Stanley contributed reporting to this story.

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