DENVER, CO — Thousands of ballots have been returned by drop box and mail in Denver for Tuesday’s state primary. The biggest race in the election is the Democratic matchup for the U.S. Senate seat. Andrew Romanoff is vying against John Hickenlooper June 30, and the winner will take on Republican incumbent Cory Gardner in November.
Hickenlooper is backed by national Democratic Party leaders, and Republicans have launched attack ads against him because Romanoff is viewed as an easier candidate to defeat in November.
But Colorado voters will ultimately decide who will be in the November race. As of Monday, more than one million ballots had been returned by mail and drop box.
>> Romanoff vs. Hickenlooper: View the latest results for the U.S. Senate Democratic race here.
Results for contested races in Denver
Denver Democratic candidates
State Board of Education Member – Congressional District 1:
State Senator – District 31:
State Representative – District 6
*There are no contested races among Republican seats in Denver.
Lisa Escárcega and Donna Morganstern are competing to represent Denver on the State Board of Education. Congressional District 1 also includes Cherry Hills Village, Glendale, Englewood and Sheridan.
State board members serve six-year terms. The state board is in charge of appointing the commissioner of education, handling charter school appeals and setting state standards. The board also oversees teacher licensure, the administration of grants approved by the legislature and requests for waivers from state regulations.
Both Escárcega and Morganstern spent “significant” amounts of their own money campaigning, according to a Chalkbeat report. As of June 10, each candidate’s campaigns had cost around $50,000.
Both candidates have many years of experience in education, which the winner will need to help guide Colorado schools through the coronavirus pandemic.
Escárcega has been endorsed by the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. She also received $5,350 each from the Public Education Committee and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.
Escárcega, 60, began her career as a school psychologist and then worked as a chief accountability officer for Aurora Public Schools. Escárcega also taught English language development courses for teachers at Regis University. She recently served as the executive director of the Colorado Association of School Executives.
“My first priority is to ensure that every child gets a high-quality education,” Escárcega told Chartbeat. “The cornerstone of my campaign is redefining what we call a ‘quality school.’ Rather than misusing the data we have, we start with communities and stakeholders defining what a quality school is and stop teaching to the test.”
“When we have seen states and districts engage in defining a school based on values, we see opportunity gaps close, educators and principles gain the supports they need, more schools thrive, and we see greater supports for students and their families.”
Morganstern, 70, spent more than a decade working as a data analyst and accountability manager for the Colorado Department of Education. She also worked for Douglas County as a data analyst, and served as the chair of the education policy study group for the Denver Democrats.
“I have a plan to bring equity to Colorado education, make districts financially accountable and transparent to parents and their neighbors without children, whose taxes support our schools, and direct more resources into our classrooms,” Morganstern told Chartbeat.
State Senator – District 31 race
Maria Orms is campaigning to unseat Chris Hansen, who currently serves as the District 31 state senator.
Hansen specializes in energy sector economics and data analytics, with 20 years of experience in the global energy industry. He was formerly the Representative for House District 6 from 2017 to 2019, representing the east-central neighborhoods of Denver.
Hansen currently serves on the Senate Finance, and Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committees. Throughout his tenure in the Colorado House of Representatives, Hansen served on the Capital Development, House Transportation & Energy, Appropriations, Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources, and Joint Budget committees, and as Chair on the House Appropriations Committee.
In addition to his current role in the state senate, Hansen serves as the Co-Founder and Director of Programming at the Colorado Energy & Water Institute, and as Co-Founder of the Colorado Science and Engineering Policy Fellowship.
Some of Hansen’s top priorities include amending TABOR to reverse education budget cuts, combating carbon pollution, preventing gun violence, fighting for women’s and LGBTQ rights, advocating for senior citizens and campaign finance reform.
Orms is a mother of two, a military veteran and engineer. She has a Master of Science in engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder, and she was in the United States Air Force from April 1988 to November 1993.
“Friends and neighbors, I’m running for State Senator because I was taught at a young age; we all do our part, and you leave the world a better place for the next generation,” Orms posted on her campaign website.
“I have lived every day with those principles in mind, whether fighting the legislators who’ve supported fracking, fighting for higher teacher pay, more funding for our schools and now more affordable housing for our Colorado families. As a progressive, I believe the government should work for the people and be held accountable to us. Somewhere in the last 50 years, that got lost. I’m going to change that.”
Some of Orms top priorities are banning fracking, increasing teachers’ wages, allowing cities to enact rent control regulations, pushing for paid family leave and the creation of a single-payer Medicare-for-all system in Colorado.
State Representative – District 6 race
and are competing to unseat Steven Woodrow from the District 6 seat. Woodrow has represented the district since Feb. 4. The district includes central and east Denver.
For the past few years, Woodrow has served as co-captain of House District 6B for the Denver Democratic Party. He’s worked as a litigator in Denver and started his own consumer practice in 2015.
Some of Woodrow’s top priorities include protecting the environment, increasing school funding, fixing the healthcare system, fighting for criminal justice reform, enhancing consumer protections and reforming campaign finance laws.
Paletz has also worked as an attorney, and currently serves as secretary of the Cranmer Park/Hilltop Civic Association. He has also served on multiple civic and neighborhood associations, traveled as a member of a special trade delegation to Israel and led the transition team for the Harris County Sheriff.
Paletz’s top priorities include protecting the environment, fighting for civil rights, improving access to mental health care, investing in education, improving affordable housing, criminal justice reform and supporting economic recovery.
Himelspach also earned a law degree after serving in the Army for several years. He spent several decades running his own law practice in Denver, and served as the District Governor for Rotary District 5450 covering central Colorado. Himelspach also spent three years as a representative on the Rotary International Council on Legislation.
Himelspach’s platform focuses on improving public education, protecting the environment, supporting small businesses, improving healthcare, gun violence prevention, civil rights and criminal justice reform.