Briefline

Rep. Larson, challenger Wagner split delegates at JeffCo GOP assembly

By: - March 24, 2022 4:45 am
ballots

Hundreds of newly arrived ballots sit in a bag at the Jefferson County elections office on Oct. 21, 2020. (Eli Imadali for Colorado Newsline)

State Rep. Colin Larson, a Littleton Republican running for a third term in the Colorado House, and his primary opponent, retired schoolteacher Dede Wagner, both qualified for the June ballot at Jefferson County Republicans’ county assembly March 19.

Each candidate garnered about half of the delegate votes, according to Denise Mund, chair of the JeffCo GOP. Larson got 49 to Wagner’s 48.

The primary race in House District 25 highlights the rift between moderate Republicans like Larson who’ve been willing to work with Democrats on some of their priorities, and the wing of the party that’s more aligned with former President Donald Trump.

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Wagner wants to see the GOP reject “red flag” laws that allow law enforcement to remove guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others, ban teaching about racism in schools, and foster more domestic oil and natural gas production. On her website, she calls out Larson for voting with Democrats more than any other Republican representative last year, as reported by the Colorado Sun.

The recently redrawn District 25 is one of the most competitive districts in the state. It provides a slim 1.8 percentage-point advantage for Republicans, according to an analysis of prior election results by legislative redistricting commission staff.

Wagner moved to Arvada in 1983 before relocating to Golden after a couple of years, according to her campaign website. Six years ago, she moved to the Evergreen area with her husband after retiring. Wagner earned a teaching degree from Regis University and had a 27-year teaching career that included work as a substitute teacher throughout Jefferson County, in private schools and as a 6th-grade teacher at Academy of Charter Schools.

Larson moved to the Columbine Valley as an infant, earned a degree in political science and history from Colorado College, and now owns Atlas Coffees in Littleton, according to his website. He was elected to represent House District 22 but resides in District 25 following last year’s redistricting process. During his three-plus years in the House of Representatives, Larson has sponsored legislation to increase funding for special education, extend takeout and delivery alcohol, and look for ways to improve investment earnings of the public school fund.

Larson supported a Democrat-led bill last year to suspend some statewide testing requirements during the pandemic but opposed another to prohibit adoption agencies and foster youth service providers from discriminating against LGBTQ youth or prospective adoptive or foster parents.

Sen. Tammy Story, a Democrat from Evergreen who was redrawn into a Senate district that heavily favors Republicans, is the only member of her party who filed to run for House District 25. She’ll run in November against either Larson or Wagner, depending on who wins the June primary election.

Senate District 4, where Story now resides, holds an advantage of nearly 24 percentage points for Republicans. Story told Colorado Politics in January that she decided her “best option for continuing to work in the policy realm was to run for a House seat.” She’ll be the first state senator in more than 20 years to do so, according to Colorado Politics.

Since taking office in 2018, Story has sponsored legislation to expand a grant program for food banks, help low-income Coloradans improve their homes’ energy efficiency, and require utilities to notify their customers of certain severe weather events.

Neither Story nor Larson returned Newsline’s requests for comment, while Wagner declined an interview request through her campaign manager.

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Reporter Faith Miller covers the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories for Colorado Newsline.

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