In Colorado State Senate, term limits spare most incumbents

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August 11, 2010

Maryanne Keller, who is ineligible to run for Colorado State Senate District 20 because of term limits. Keller has held the seat since 2003.

By Justin Voeks

Colorado was among the first states to enact state legislative term limits when its voters approved the Colorado Term Limits Act in 1990. However, the impact of term limits on the 2010 State Senate elections will be relatively small.

In 2010, three incumbent Colorado Senators have reached their two-term limit and are unable to run for re-election. These senators are Democrats Abel Tapia and Maryanne Keller and Republican Ken Kester.

With only three incumbents unable to run for re-election, the Colorado Senate races are less influenced by term limits than other senate races across the country. Nationwide, in the 14 state senate elections in which senators are subject to term limits, incumbents are ineligible for re-election in 122 of the 337 races, or 36.2% of the races. In Colorado, incumbents are ineligible in 3 of the 19 races, meaning that term limits are impacting only 15.8% of the contests.

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 17
     Republican Party 18
Total 35

Currently, Democrats hold a 7-seat advantage over Republicans in the Colorado Senate. Louis Jacobson, a staff-writer for PolitiFact analyzed which state legislatures may change majority party control in the November elections. He found that the Colorado Senate may switch into Republican hands, but that it is leaning towards the Democrats. In his analysis, he notes that many factors favor the Republicans in the election, but that one element in the Democrats' favor is that the Republicans will have to defeat several incumbent Democratic senators to win the chamber.[1] There will be so many incumbents to defeat, in part, because Colorado's term limits are not forcing many incumbents out of the race.

See also