AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Colorado's state primaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — Colorado’s congressional delegation faces a reshuffling in Tuesday’s state primaries after a retirement, a resignation and a relocation have ensured that at least a third of the state’s population will have new representation in Washington next year.

Tuesday’s primaries will also lay the groundwork for a general election in which two competitive Colorado districts could help determine control of the narrowly divided U.S. House in November.

In the 3rd Congressional District, two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert faced a tough rematch with Democrat Adam Frisch, who came within 546 votes of toppling the congresswoman in 2022. However, when fellow Republican Ken Buck decided in 2023 not to seek a sixth term in the neighboring 4th Congressional District, Boebert opted instead to head east and run for Buck’s open seat, where Republicans enjoy a bigger electoral advantage.

She now faces a crowded Republican primary field that includes state Reps. Mike Lynch and Richard Holtorf, conservative activist and talk radio host Deborah Flora, Logan County Commissioner and former state Senate President Pro Tempore Jerry Sonnenberg and banking executive Peter Yu. Running for the Democratic nomination are speechwriter Trisha Calvarese, Marine Corps veteran Ike McCorkle and engineer John Padora.

Buck resigned from his seat in March, triggering a special general election to serve out the remaining six months of his term. The race appears on the ballot alongside the regularly scheduled primaries for the full term.

Several of the candidates vying for the full-term seat also sought the Republican nomination to fill Buck’s vacancy, but a state Republican Party committee nominated former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, who is not running for a full term. He will face Democrat Calvarese and two third-party candidates.

Since her election in 2020, Boebert has become a polarizing figure for her combative style and penchant for controversy. The past year has been particularly chaotic for Boebert’s personal life, with a messy divorce, the arrest of her son in a series of break-ins and thefts, a health scare requiring surgery for a blood clot and her highly publicized ejection from a Denver theater for causing a disturbance.

Despite the controversies, Boebert likely improved her chances at reelection with the move to a district that former President Donald Trump carried twice with almost 60% of the vote. She leads the field in fundraising and has the backing of Trump, House Speaker Mike Johnson and the state party.

Back in Boebert’s former district, Frisch is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. He will face the winner of a crowded Republican primary field, which includes former state Rep. Ron Hanks, the state party’s preferred candidate. Although Frisch came close to beating Boebert in 2022, the district still leans Republican. Voters there gave Trump 53% of the vote in 2016 and 2020.

Colorado’s most competitive U.S. House race this fall will likely be in the 8th Congressional District, where first-term U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Her Republican opponent will be either state Rep. Gabe Evans or former state Rep. Janak Joshi. Evans is an Army veteran and former police officer, while Joshi is a retired physician and has the state party’s endorsement.

Caraveo won her seat in 2022 with just 48% of the vote in this new district near Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. Trump received 46% of the vote in the area in the last two presidential elections, enough to outperform Hillary Clinton in 2016 but about 4 percentage points shy of Joe Biden in 2020.

In the 5th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn’s upcoming retirement after nine terms has created an opening for this Republican-friendly seat anchored by Colorado Springs. Political consultant and talk radio host Jeff Crank and state party chairman Dave Williams are running for the Republican nomination. Williams has Trump’s endorsement as well as that of the state party he runs.

Some Republicans including Crank have criticized Williams for using the state party apparatus to promote his own congressional aspirations. The Democratic nominee will be either River Gassen or Joe Reagan. Trump received 53% of the District’s vote in 2020 and 56% in 2016. Lamborn received 56% in his 2022 reelection.

Farther down the ballot are contested primaries for state Senate and state House. About half of the state’s 35 state Senate seats and all 65 state House seats are up for election this year. Democrats enjoy about a 2-to-1 majority in both chambers.

Here’s a look at what to expect on Tuesday:


The Colorado state primary will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 9 p.m. ET.


The Associated Press will provide vote results and declare winners in 35 contests, including six contested primaries for the U.S. House, seven for the state Senate, 18 for the state House, two state boards of education, one for the University of Colorado Board of Regents and one special general election for the 4th Congressional District.


Registered party members may vote only in their own party’s primary. In other words, Democrats can’t vote in the Republican primary or vice versa. Independent or unaffiliated voters may participate in any party’s primary.


By running for a different seat, Boebert exchanged Colorado’s sprawling westernmost district for its sprawling easternmost district. In the 3rd District, the most influential counties in elections are Republican-friendly Mesa to the west, which includes Grand Junction, and Democratic-friendly Pueblo to the east. The candidate who carries both counties, as Boebert did in the 2020 primary when she unseated incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton, would be difficult to defeat.

In Boebert’s new 4th District, the key county to win is Douglas, nestled between Denver and Colorado Springs. Douglas has by far the largest population in the district, casting more than half of the votes in Buck’s 2022 reelection. A candidate trailing in Douglas would need overwhelming margins in the rest of the District to eke out a win. Douglas votes less Republican than the rest of the District, giving Trump about 52% of its vote in 2020, compared to about 60% to nearly 90% in other counties.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

Colorado allows for automatic recounts in races where the vote margin is 0.5% or less of the leader’s vote total. The AP may declare a winner in a race that is eligible for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.


As of June 1, there were nearly 4.5 million registered voters in Colorado. Of those, 26% were Democrats, 23% were Republicans and about half were unaffiliated or independent.

In the 2022 primaries, turnout was 12% of registered voters in the Democratic primaries and 15% in the Republican primaries. Colorado conducts its elections predominantly by mail.

As of Tuesday, a total of 449,721 ballots had already been cast, about 42% in the Democratic primary and 41% in the Republican primary. A total of 75,516 votes have already been cast in the 4th Congressional District special election.


In the 2022 primaries, the AP first reported results at 9:04 p.m. ET, or four minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 4:05 a.m. ET with about 90% of total votes counted.


As of Tuesday, there will be 133 days until the November general election.