Counting ends with GOP in control of Senate

The long days of post-election vote counting ended late Friday, giving Republicans an 18-17 majority in the state Senate.

Vote counts in Adams County, slowed by tabulation of write-in votes for a county office, ended with victory for Republican Beth Martinez Humenik in Senate District 24. She narrowly defeated retired teacher Judy Solano, a former House member.

The outcome was part of as surprising Republican surge in the traditionally Democratic county. Another apparent victim was Democratic Rep. Jenise May, who lost to Republican JoAnn Windholz in District 30.

But Democratic Rep. Joe Salazar, who had trailed in early counts, pulled off a narrow win in neighboring District 31 over Carol Buckler. Salazar’s win will bring the Democrats’ House majority to 34.

The Republicans’ Senate win and May’s loss will bring important changes to the Joint Budget Committee, which includes members from both houses. Now controlled 4-2 by Democrats, the new committee will have a 3-3 makeup.

Senate Republican leaders will have to find a second member to serve with committee veteran Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs. And Senate Democrats will have to decide between current members Mary Hodge of Brighton and Pat Steadman to fill their one seat.

In the House, Democratic leaders will need to find a replacement for the defeated May. Other current House members are Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale.

The changes mean half the members will be new to the committee, as Rankin was named to the panel only after the 2014 session adjourned. The committee will face key decisions about both K-12 and higher education funding during the 2015 session. (Get more background on those issues in this Chalkbeat Colorado story about Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget plan.)

Learn more about the possible implications of the legislative changes in this earlier story.