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Colorado Voters Will Choose A New Governor

Courtesy of Walker Stapleton for Governor, Polis for Colorado

The Colorado governor's race between Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and Republican treasurer Walker Stapleton tops a Tuesday ballot whose results could change the GOP-leaning makeup of the state's U.S. House delegation.

Colorado residents voted in seven congressional races, including a tight contest pitting five-term Republican Rep. Mike Coffman against first-time Democratic candidate Jason Crow, who mounted a well-funded challenge in a suburban Denver district. It could determine a shift in Colorado Republicans' 4-3 edge in the U.S. House.

Voters also weighed in on ballot issues ranging from where fracking can occur to multibillion-dollar plans to fund roads and public schools.

The vote for governor was a referendum on health care, Colorado's limits on taxes, its energy future, its ability to address congested roadways, high housing costs and underfunded schools — plus President Donald Trump.

Polis, who would be Colorado's first openly gay governor if elected, invested a record $22 million and counting of his own wealth in his bid to succeed Democrat John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited. He has represented Boulder, Fort Collins and north-central Colorado in Congress since 2009.

Stapleton emerged from a hotly contested Republican primary to vie for a seat that has eluded Republicans since Gov. Bill Owens left office in 2007.

Polis called for a universal health care system that could include neighboring states under former President Barack Obama's health care law. He opposed bonding for roads, supported publicly funded pre-kindergarten and kindergarten and pledged a 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2040.

Stapleton embraced Trump's tax cuts, moves to open federal lands to energy exploration and pledges to punish sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

He insisted on a market-based health care system, supported bonding for roads and argued that trimming a bloated schools bureaucracy could deliver the funding that classrooms need. He warned that Polis, who has supported local control over fracking, would jeopardize Colorado's booming oil and natural gas industry.

In congressional races, Coffman is fighting for political survival in a district that's trended steadily leftward. Crow, a former Army Ranger, branded the Republican as an enabler of Trump and attacked him on health care and gun violence in a district that saw the 2012 movie theater shooting that killed 12 people.

Coffman opposed blanket gun restrictions but advocated for mental health and school safety measures. He cited his longtime advocacy for veterans, service in both Iraq wars, his self-described moderate stance on immigration and his occasional bucking of the GOP to try to persuade voters to keep him.

Democrat Joe Neguse faces Republican Peter Yu to succeed Polis, while incumbent Democrats Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Scott Tipton, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn were expected to win.

The top statewide ballot issue asked voters to severely limit fracking. A counterproposal backed by the energy industry would allow Colorado residents to sue over any government action affecting an ill-defined "fair market value" of their property.

Other proposed statewide law changes and constitutional amendments included raising taxes for schools; competing proposals to raise taxes and issue bonds for transportation; creating nonpartisan legislative and congressional redistricting to eliminate partisan gerrymandering; and clarifying archaic language in the state Constitution to ban slavery and involuntary servitude under all circumstances.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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