Oct 29, 2022 - Politics

What's at stake on Colorado's 2022 election ballot

Illustration of a pattern of checkmarks that turn into question marks and vice versa, over a red and blue background with a pattern of ballot elements.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you need motivation to vote, here it is:

  • The winners in Colorado's elections will help determine the direction of the nation and the state for years to come.

State of play: The stakes in the 2022 midterms are clear in Colorado with candidates offering starkly divergent viewpoints on the top issues and ballot measures proposing major changes in how we live.

  • Here's a look at why the races on this year's ballot matter.

1) Which party controls Congress

The 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate, with Democrats holding the edge with the vice president's tie-breaking vote, means every race counts.

  • To hold their ground, Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet must win in Colorado. And Republicans see the race as a potential sleeper upset if a red wave materializes and boosts their candidate, first-time politician Joe O'Dea.

In the U.S. House, the GOP is widely expected to win the majority β€” but just how large and how conservative remains unclear.

  • The most competitive race in Colorado is the newly drawn 8th District that stretches from the suburbs north of Denver through Weld County. Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, a chief proponent of oil and gas drilling and one of the more conservative members in the Legislature, holds a narrow edge against Democrat Yadira Caraveo.
  • A GOP win would divide the Colorado delegation evenly (4-4) between the parties, despite Democrats holding a registered-voter advantage in the state.

2) Democratic control in Colorado

Democrats control every statewide office and the lawmaking process after historic wins in the 2018 election, and voters will decide whether it continues.

In the governor's race, Jared Polis is looking for a second term while his GOP challenger Heidi Ganahl is campaigning to reverse his course.

The best chance for Republicans to break the Democratic hold on government will come in down-ballot races, such as treasurer and secretary of state.

  • These offices control the state's finances and elections, making them of paramount importance.

Democrat control of the lawmaking process also faces a challenge.

  • In the state Senate, Democrats hold a 21-14 majority after Sen. Kevin Priola defected from the GOP, and now Republicans need to flip four seats to get the majority. It's a tall order, but it's the party's best hope to get a split Legislature.
  • In the state House, Republicans will gain seats β€” and are targeting eight key districts β€” but it won't upset the Democratic majority, which is currently 41-24.

3) Statewide ballot questions

Colorado lawmakers and advocates want voters to decide major policy questions

How the state spends money is a major theme with million-dollar implications.

Colorado's Prohibition-era alcohol laws would get another overhaul under three propositions that would expand sales β€” and most notably allow grocery and convenience stores that currently sell beer to also sell wine.

  • Another tests the state's progressive view on drugs and would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and allow for their use at licensed centers.

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