- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DENVER — As huge as Cory Gardner’s Senate victory was for Colorado Republicans last week, there is an argument to be made that Beth Martinez Humenik’s win was nearly as significant.

The latest figures show Ms. Humenik ousting Democrat Judy Solano in the Adams County district by just 876 votes, giving Republicans an 18-17 edge in the state Senate and reclaiming control of the upper chamber in Denver for the first time since 2004.

The Colorado state Senate was one of 11 state legislative houses captured last week by Republicans, padding the GOP’s advantage at the statehouse level and giving the party its largest number of legislative seats since 1920.

Republicans now will control both houses of the legislature in 30 states, Democrats will hold both houses in 11 states and eight states will be split, according to an update Tuesday by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Republicans also netted three governorships — now 31 out of 50 — after unseating Democrats in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. Democrats gained one office in Pennsylvania by defeating Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican.

Still up in the air is the Alaska governor’s race, as election officials began Tuesday counting about 50,000 absentee ballots. Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, trails independent candidate Bill Walker by about 3,000 votes.

“Suffice it to say, it was a banner election for the GOP,” said Tim Storey, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nowhere was the Republican legislative gain bigger than in Colorado, possibly the most volatile swing state. Given that Democrats held the state House and the Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, won his re-election bid, capturing the state Senate was crucial for Republicans attempting to hold off another aggressive liberal legislative push by state Democrats.

In 2013, Republican legislators were powerless to stop state Democrats as they pushed through a spate of hotly contested bills. They rewrote the state’s election rules, doubled the renewable-energy mandate on rural Colorado and passed tough gun control laws with no Republican votes.

Democrats ultimately paid for their gun control foray with the recalls of two state senators and the resignation of a third. This year, Democratic candidates won back the two recalled state Senate seats but lost three others.

The midterm elections also marked the worst outing for the Colorado Democracy Alliance’s “Gang of Four” multimillionaires, who have spent freely over the past decade to cement a permanent Democratic majority.

Mr. Gardner gave Colorado Republicans their first Senate victory in 12 years. Republicans held the other three state constitutional offices: attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer.

Ms. Humenik, a member of the Thornton City Council, told reporters she was “elated” when her win was confirmed late Friday, three days after the polls closed.

“Now I’m ready to get to work and get some things done for the people,” she told The Denver Post.

Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said the midterm results show that Colorado’s reported transformation into a reliably blue state are premature — something both parties need to bear in mind for 2016.

“I think Democrats have a very strong position, but I think Colorado’s now back in play,” Mr. Ciruli said. “To survive here in government, you now have to be bipartisan, and in the next election cycle, this at least starts as a very close race, both for the presidential candidates and everybody else running.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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