Early results in legislative primary races look good for Colorado incumbents

State Rep. Tony Exum, consultant Tom Kim win primaries in Senate swing districts

By: - June 29, 2022 7:06 am

Douglas County election workers process primary election ballots in Castle Rock on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

This fall, all 65 seats in the Colorado House of Representatives and 16 of the state Senate’s 35 seats will be up for election. Just over a quarter of those districts had competitive Republican or Democratic primary elections Tuesday.

In almost all of those 23 contested primaries for state House and Senate seats, votes counted by midnight Tuesday pointed to a likely winner. The early results looked good for incumbent state lawmakers, many of whom handily defeated primary challengers. County clerk’s offices won’t finish counting ballots for several days.

Below are the early results in those legislative races, broken down by party and by chamber.

Democratic Senate primary race

Colorado Springs City Council member Yolanda Avila and state Rep. Tony Exum of Colorado Springs faced off in a battle to represent Senate District 11, which will be one of the most competitive legislative districts in the state come November. Exum won with 54.5% of votes counted by midnight. He will face state Sen. Dennis Hisey in the general election.

Republican Senate primaries

Based on early returns, Senate District 9 voters in El Paso County handed a 37-point victory to incumbent Sen. Paul Lundeen of Monument over retired Air Force Lt. Col. Lynda Zamora Wilson.

In Senate District 27, which encompasses parts of Arapahoe and Douglas counties, business consultant Tom Kim defeated JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin, a former Aurora Public Schools Board of Education member. As of midnight, Kim had 70.4% of votes cast in the GOP primary. He will face state Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial in another highly competitive general election race. Like Senate District 11, this district figures large in determining which party holds the majority in the chamber come January. Republicans need only gain three seats to claim the Senate from Democrats’ control.

A voter is seen at a polling location in Parker on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

Democratic House primaries

As of midnight Tuesday, the Democratic primary in Denver’s House District 6 was still too close to call. Katie March, who’s worked for state House Speaker Alec Garnett, was leading criminal justice reform advocate Elisabeth Epps by just 34 votes, with about 12,500 votes counted.

In Colorado Springs’ House District 17, Regina English emerged victorious over Mischa Smith. English, who serves on the Harrison School District Two Board of Education, had a 10-point advantage over Smith, the former deputy political director for now-U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper’s campaign.

Northglenn City Council member Jenny Willford and former Thornton City Council member Sam Nizam faced off in Adams County’s House District 34. Willford won with a 17-point lead over Nizam by midnight.

State Rep. Mandy Lindsay, who was appointed earlier this year by a vacancy committee, defeated longtime city employee Gail Pough in Aurora’s House District 42. Lindsay was ahead by 15 points as of midnight Tuesday.

The Democratic primary victory in Pueblo’s House District 46 went to Tisha Lyn Mauro, an automobile industry employee who was leading over Jason Muñoz, the former chair of the Pueblo Latino Democratic Forum, by 11 percentage points.

Elizabeth Velasco beat Cole Buerger by a 27-point margin in House District 57, which includes Garfield County, Pitkin County and part of Eagle County. Velasco has worked to provide information to residents during wildfires, while Buerger owns a small communications firm.

Voters drop off their ballots at a drive-thru location near the Denver Elections Division offices on June 28, 2022. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline).

Republican House primaries

The Republican primary for House District 14 in Colorado Springs featured former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and Joe Woyte, an Air Force Academy graduate who’s volunteered on accountability committees for Academy School District 20. Pugliese emerged victorious, with a 10-point lead over Woyte by 10 p.m. Tuesday night.

Family lawyer Shana Black defeated bookkeeper Summer Groubert in the Republican primary for House District 18 in El Paso County. Black had 68% of the vote based on early results, meaning she’ll face state Rep. Marc Snyder in the highly competitive general election.

In House District 21, another Colorado Springs district, incumbent state Rep. Mary Bradfield defeated former military police officer Karl Dent, garnering two-thirds of votes counted by midnight.

Similarly, Rep. Colin Larson of Littleton beat challenger Dede Wagner, a retired schoolteacher from Indian Hills, in House District 25. Larson had a 37-point lead over Wagner as of midnight Tuesday. Based on an analysis by nonpartisan legislative redistricting staff, the recently redrawn Jefferson County district will be home to one of the most competitive legislative races in the general election.

Savannah Wolfson, who homeschools her children in Oak Creek, had a 22-point lead over small business owner Glenn Lowe III of Eagle in the Republican primary for House District 26. The district encompasses Moffatt, Rio Blanco and Routt counties, plus part of Eagle County.

Victory in the House District 43 primary went to Kurt Huffman, a small business owner from Highlands Ranch who has served on the Douglas County Planning Commission. He secured 61.1% of the vote — triumphing over Robin Webb, an accountant endorsed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Republicans in Parker’s House District 44 overwhelmingly voted for retired Army Lt. Col. Anthony Hartsook, a former aide for then-U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, over Terry Dodd, who built a career in construction management and real estate. Hartsook had garnered 62.9% of votes counted by midnight.

In House District 45, Douglas County Assessor Lisa Frizell defeated Bill Jack, the founder of a Christian leadership training program for students. Frizell had a 12-point lead over Jack based on early results.

House District 48 primary voters in Adams and Weld counties chose Gabe Evans of Fort Lupton over Terry Lee Robert DeGroot, a dairy farmer and former Navy police officer from Kersey. Evans, a farmer and Army veteran, was ahead by 42 points as of midnight Tuesday.

House District 49 encompasses Clear Creek and Gilpin counties, plus parts of Boulder and Larimer counties. The district’s Republican primary voters picked entrepreneur Kathryn Lehr over waiter John Caldwell, handing Lehr 56.4% of the vote in early results.

House Minority Leader Hugh McKean of Loveland survived a primary challenge from Austin Hein, who’s worked for Kentucky U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie and state Rep. Patrick Neville, in Larimer County’s House District 51. McKean had a 13-point lead over Hein by midnight.

In Grand Junction’s House District 55, former Mayor Rick Taggart defeated physician Trish Weber by 6 percentage points, based on early results.

Long-term care facility administrator Carol Riggenbach triumphed over Conejos County GOP leader Ryan Williams in House District 62, home to several counties in the San Luis Valley. By midnight, Riggenbach was winning with 61.3% of the vote.

In House District 63, which covers a wide swath of northeast Colorado, incumbent state Rep. Richard Holtorf beat back a primary challenge from Jessie Vance, who was supported by the Colorado Chamber of Commerce and housing developers. Holtorf was leading with 71.5% of votes counted by midnight Tuesday.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Faith Miller was a reporter with Colorado Newsline covering the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories.