Nov 032004
Authors: Chris Kampfe

For the first time since 1970, Colorado voters shifted control

of both the state House and state Senate to the Democratic


The Democrats have been in control of the Senate since 2000, but

they gained some long-held Republican seats in the House on

Election Day. One of these races was in District 50, with the

victory of Democrat Jim Riesberg. Riesberg claimed a seat that had

been occupied by a Republican for 16 years.

“Seeing how we took both the House and the Senate, we’ll

(Democrats) be received very well,” Reisberg said. “I think that

(Democratic victory) was the biggest shocker of the night.”

John Straayer, a political science professor, said he was

surprised Democrats took the House and speculates that the

two-thirds of the Republican candidates who lost presented

themselves as extremely conservative.

“A (contributing) reason was the fact that three of the

candidates were of the far right wing of the party – maybe a little

too far,” Straayer said. “Republicans were very focused on the

president and (Pete) Coors/(Ken) Salazar; they neglected the state

House contest.”

Ashleigh McBeth, president of CSU Young Democrats, was excited

about the surprise Democrat victory, but she was unhappy with the

results of the U.S. House race between Democrat Stan Matsunaka and

Republican Marilyn Musgrave.

“We are very upset that Matsunaka did not win,” McBeth said.

“Musgrave has not visited the 4th District … she has not come to

CSU. I think a lot of people voted party lines on that and not on

the issues.”

Despite changing partisan control, state legislators will have

their hands full when they reconvene with $263 million in cuts to

deal with from last year.

Riesburg said because so many elections were so close,

legislators “have to have a new spirit of bipartisan effort,” and

it will be essential for candidates to come together across party


“Do we have to look at the tax structure? Certainly,” Riesberg

said. “There’s going to have to be some real creative planning to

get beyond that shortfall.”

While the election brought surprises for many, Larimer County

Clerk Scott Doyle said his office ran smoothly all day, and he was

very happy with the cities’ operations.

“I was delighted to see that (the voter turnout),” Doyle said.

“It was a blessing, unprecedented.”

Larimer County was the only place in the country on Tuesday that

did not require voters to attend a specific polling place. They

could cast their ballots at any of 31 county locations. While there

was some concern over accuracy in Colorado after it was discovered

that 55,000 voters statewide had double registered, Doyle said

Larimer County has had no problems.

“Everything was impeccable,” Doyle said.

Doyle said one of the election’s highlights for him was the

youth participation, which has been so publicized.

“Out of 200,000 voters, 160,000 active and 40,000 inactive, out

of that number 30,000 are 18 to 24 years old,” Doyle said. “So (18-

to 24-year-olds) are the driving factor and their voice was heard

pretty loud yesterday.”

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