Newsfeed#EDlection2018  

EDlection2018: With Democratic Wins in Statehouse, Colorado Becomes Another Blue Trifecta

By Kevin Mahnken | November 8, 2018

Getty Images

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Colorado Democrats kept their winning streak alive on Election Night, electing Rep. Jared Polis as the state’s third consecutive Democratic governor. But the bigger story might have been obscured by Polis’s historic win to become the nation’s first openly gay governor: In the lower-profile legislative races, a blue wave crashed over the state Senate, giving Democrats unified control over government in Denver for the first time since 2014.

House Democrats picked up two seats to expand their majority to 11. But their colleagues in the Senate pulled off the real coup, defeating two Republican incumbents and flipping the chamber from an 18-17 GOP majority to a 19-16 Democratic advantage. In doing so, they were the key in helping the party gain a coveted “trifecta.”

In Jefferson County, west of Denver, veteran education activist Tammy Story beat Sen. Tim Neville, one of the most conservative lawmakers in Colorado. Story led the 2015 effort to recall three right-leaning members of the county school board in a much-publicized tussle over teacher pay and the district’s U.S. history curriculum.

In Adams County, Rep. Faith Winter prevailed over Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik by a 52-41 margin. Winter, who has already gained attention from EMILY’s List and is seen as a rising star in the party, has made paid family leave one of her signature issues in the House.

Related

Colorado Republicans Hold a One-Seat Majority in the State Senate. These Two Democrats Could Flip the Chamber — and Jump-Start State Education Reform

The new Senate majority — along with the leadership of Governor-elect Polis, who is expected to govern as an unabashed progressive — will allow Colorado Democrats to act on Winter’s proposal, along with others caught in the GOP bottleneck over the past four years. Another initiative likely to be considered is a bill to launch a voter referendum on full-day, state-funded kindergarten, which was sent to an infamous “kill committee” by Republican leadership. Possible changes to the state education funding formula, as well as legislation to reduce student suspensions, have also been stymied under divided government.

Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, thought to be a contender to become Senate majority leader, told the Denver Business Journal that the party’s victories Tuesday were a message from voters to govern responsibly.

“What this says to me is that they trust our ability to lead, but they don’t want us to go crazy,” Zenzinger said. “I think this is our opportunity to prove to Colorado that there’s nothing to be afraid of with Democrats in power.”

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Submit a Letter to the Editor