|Democrats Battle for Control of State Senate
The past decade of population growth could help State Senate Democrats wrest political power from Republicans this November. Given population growth and changes, it is by no means certain that Republicans can maintain control of the State Legislature. True, the GOP has ruled the state Senate continuously since 1962 and the House for the same period except a pair to two-year setbacks in 1964 and 1974 when Democrats won the House in the Goldwater and Watergate debacles.
But Democrats are making a major effort to regain the Senate and protect themselves against a gerrymander. Now down 20-15, they need a net gain of three seats. Discounting holdovers and districts that lean heavily to one party, that means Democrats need to win five of the seven battleground seats rated as crucial by veteran analyst Floyd Ciruli. They are:
--Senate District 13, where Democrat Joan Fitz-Gerald, former Jefferson County clerk, has mounted a strong challenge to Republican incumbent Bryan Sullivant.
--District 14, where Democratic incumbent Peggy Reeves has a strong challenger in Steve Tool, a moderate Republican trying to move up from the House.
--District 19, where ultra-conservative Republican Jim Congrove will face the winner of a Democratic primary between Jim Pierson and Sue Windels.
--District 21, now held by term-limited Democratic Senator Mike Feeley. Democrats have nominated Deanna Hanna. The Republican primary pits former Lakewood mayor Linda Morton against Rep. Penn Pfiffner. Morton's broad appeal to Democrats and Independents would make her unbeatable in November, but Pfiffner's ties to anti-tax and religious right groups could give him an edge in the usually conservative GOP primary. Democrats concede they can't beat Morton but are rooting for Pfiffner in the primary in hopes of electing Hanna in November.
--District 23. Incumbent Republican Ken Arnold may be vulnerable to Democrat Michael Massarotti.
--District 35. Incumbent Republican Dottie Wham is term limited. Democratic Rep. Ken Gordon and Republican Rep. Dorothy Gotlieb are dueling for the seat.
The stakes are high for both Republicans and Democrats this November. These races will be the ones to watch.
by Bob Ewegen,
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