It’s Election Time in Colorado! Recommendations, Predictions, and More….

It’s election time. So why write multiple blog posts, when I can condense my state and local endorsements, recommendations, analyses and predictions into one? Exactly.

Let’s start with the obvious. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to drive by our Arvada yard full of signs, here are most of the candidates we’re supporting in 2012:

For those who have questions about state and local ballot issues, as well as nonpartisan candidates and offices, check out my guide to the Colorado ballot 2012.

I’ll tackle predictions of the Presidential and Congressional races later on. For now I will offer up my humble prognostications for the Colorado state house and state senate. I have had neither the time nor the inclination to create the in-depth legislative election analysis that I put forward in 2010.

But I have done some footwork this time around. Good sources cited include takes on 2012’s top races to watch from both the Colorado Statesman and Ed News Colorado. Also helpful are data on the new legislative districts after reapportionment and candidate campaign finance reports.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts:

First, the 65-seat State House, which the Republicans oh-so-narrowly eked away from the Democrats in a weird 2010 in Colorado — missing the national Tea Party wave because of a top-of-the-ticket disaster. They bring the 33-32 edge into the 2012 showdown, but redistricting has shaken up the map and the possibilities. Fewer incumbents are in the mix. No matter what happens, there will be a lot of new faces in the legislature. But will the GOP’s Frank McNulty keep the Speaker’s gavel, or will a Democrat — probably Mark Ferrandino — wrest it away?

Likely Democrat Gains (2): HD 30 – Jenise May over Mike Sheely; HD 40 – John Buckner over Rep. Cindy Acree;

Likely Republican Gains (2): HD 56 – Rep. Kevin Priola over Dave Rose; HD 64 – Tim Dore

Probable Democrat Gains (4): HD 17 – Thomas Exum over Rep. Mark Barker; HD 28 – Brittany Pettersen over Amy Atwood; HD 29 – Rep. Robert Ramirez (R) vs. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D); HD 33 – former Rep. Dianne Primavera over Dave Pigott

Probable Republican Gains (2): HD 3 – Brian Watson over Rep. Daniel Kagan; HD 18 – Jennifer George over Rep. Pete Lee

Tossup – Possible Republican Gain: HD 50 – Art Carlson over Rep. Dave Young

Possible Dem Upset to Watch: HD 59 – Mike McLachlan over Rep. J. Paul Brown

Possible GOP Upset to Watch: HD 35 – Brian Vande Krol over Rep. Cherylin Peniston

New Legislators to Watch: I’m probably partial, but on the Republican side HD 22’s Justin Everett figures to be a strong, articulate conservative voice within the caucus for awhile. I don’t know enough about the crop of new Democratic candidates to make an informed assessment.

Analysis: It certainly looks like the battle for the state house will come down to the wire again. While it could go either way by narrow margins, my prediction today is that Republicans will hold onto the chamber by the same narrow margin, 33-32.

Finally, on to the State Senate, where there is a much more manageable number (20) of races in the 35-seat chamber. In 2010 the Democrats held on to a 20-15 majority by winning three close (including two extremely close) races. This time they are defending 13 seats to the GOP’s 7, and almost certainly neither side will have as many as 20 seats when the dust settles. Can the Republicans retake the state senate, though? It all comes down to Jefferson County, aka Swing County, USA.

Probable Republican Gains (2): SD 26 – Dave Kerber over Sen. Linda Newell; SD 35 – Larry Crowder over Crestina Martinez

Tossup – Possible Democrat Gain: SD 22 – Rep. Andy Kerr over Rep. Ken Summers

Tossup – Possible Republican Gain: SD 19 – Lang Sias over Sen. Evie Hudak (Yes, this is my district, for the astute observers who spotted a certain name on one of the signs in the picture above)

New Legislators to Watch: Owen Hill in SD 10 is a lock to win after falling short by a razor-thin margin against Senate Majority Leader John Morse (SD 11) in 2010. His counterpart from the Left, the ACLU’s Jessie Ulibarri (SD 21), likewise figures to be a rising star in his party.

Analysis: The GOP is virtually certain to gain ground in the state senate, but the odds are still less than 50-50 that they can seize the majority. Winning both seats in Jeffco would require a bigger Republican wave than seems evident right now. My prediction is a 2-seat Republican gain to narrow the Democrats’ advantage to 18-17.

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