Jun 29, 2022 - News

Denver's House District 6 Democratic primary is too close to call

Colorado House District 6 Democratic candidates Elisabeth Epps and Katie March.

The race between Elisabeth Epps and Katie March was too close to call Tuesday night, with neither candidate conceding in the Democratic primary for a state House seat representing east Denver.

  • It's one of three contested Democratic races in Denver this primary election.

Why it matters: While both candidates embraced the "progressive" label, the race was seen as a test of how far left the party is willing to go.

  • Epps embraced abolishing the police and expressed disapproval with the fentanyl bill that made possession of small amounts a felony, which Democrats at the state Capitol largely supported.

By the numbers: March led Epps by just 225 votes — 51% to 49% — according to preliminary numbers from Denver Elections posted at 10pm.

The backdrop: Epps is an attorney who runs a nonprofit providing cash bail, and is known locally for her criminal justice advocacy.

  • March spent the last five years as state legislative staffer for the Democratic caucus and has previously worked in history museums.

Both candidates said addressing housing and improving public safety were top priorities.

  • Both support giving people housing options before providing additional services like health care or job placement to help them succeed.

Yes, but: Some differences exist between the Democrats, with Epps labeling herself the "actual progressive" in the race, while March called herself a "pragmatic progressive" in an interview with Axios Denver.

  • March said she would have voted for the fentanyl bill passed by lawmakers this spring, though she said, without specifying, that she had issues with some of its language.
  • Epps said some elements of the bill were OK, such as funding for medication-assisted treatment, access to naloxone and test strips, but she did not support making fentanyl possession a felony.

Catch up quick: This primary race drew big money: Epps' campaign raised $174,739, the latest reports show; March's brought in $156,746.

  • By comparison, GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl raised $1.1 million, while incumbent state Treasurer and Democrat Dave Young raised $413,737.

On the map: The district includes the Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park, Congress Park, Hale, Lowry and Windsor neighborhoods.

  • Republican candidate Donald D. Howell ran unopposed and will face either Epps or March in the fall general election.

What else: U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette easily won her party's primary Tuesday, and essentially will continue as the longest-serving congressional member from Colorado because of the district's strong Democratic bent.

  • Challenger Neal Walia labeled himself a grassroots Democrat and earned a recommendation from the Denver Democratic Socialists of America.
  • In the Democratic primary for CU Regents race, Johnnie Nguyen led Wanda James with 50% of the vote, based on preliminary results.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Denver Democratic Socialists of America is a political and activist organization, not a party, and that the organization did not formally endorse Neal Walia, but recommended the candidate.


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