Hanlon concedes Senate District 8 race after margin moves to Rankin’s favor
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from Sen. Bob Rankin.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The close race for Colorado Senate District 8 is decided, and incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Rankin has won the seat that he was appointed to fill last year.
His challenger, Democrat Karl Hanlon, called Rankin on Thursday morning to concede and offer congratulations.
“I got into this race to bring a new voice to rural Colorado and fight for working families on issues that matter to them,” Hanlon said in a message posted to his campaign Facebook page. “I’m really proud of the work my team has done to get us this far and all the supporters throughout the district who believed in a vision of change.
“While I wish the outcome had been different, I remained heartened by the tens of thousands of voters in Senate District 8 who made their voices heard.”
With ballots still being counted Thursday in the seven counties that make up Senate District 8, Rankin’s lead grew past the margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.
Vote tallies reported by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office as of noon Thursday gave Rankin 50.6% of the vote to Hanlon’s 49.4%, with 986 votes separating the two.
“I’m very humbled after going through this campaign and know you should never take for granted the opportunity to serve,” Rankin said Thursday.
“My main issues really had to do with the state of the economy because of the COVID impact, which is not good,” said Rankin, who serves as the senior member on the state Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. “There is a responsibility with that to help lead the discussion.”
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Starting next week, the Joint Budget Committee will be having full-day meetings to start working on the budget and related bills. Rankin also applauded voter approval of Amendment B, repealing the Gallagher Amendment, which he said will go a long way to help with state education funding and help special districts maintain their tax bases.
That’s especially important for fire districts and the special Colorado Mountain College district, which stood to be severely impacted in the coming years under Gallagher’s restrictions on maintaining residential property tax rates in Colorado.
Rankin said he also plans to introduce a new bill — titled Wildfire Mitigation, Detection and Suppression — which would dovetail with Gov. Jared Polis’ initiatives to better address wildfire protection in the state after a record wildfire season.
In close races, state law requires an automatic recount if the margin is within 0.5%. The margin between Rankin and Hanlon stands at 1.18% after the latest vote totals.
Hanlon had taken the early lead Tuesday night based on returns from the mountain resort areas, but the race narrowed as returns came in from the more-conservative western parts of the district.
Returns now show Hanlon, from Carbondale, winning in Routt and Summit counties, while Rankin had the edge in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Grand and Jackson counties.
“We knew it was going to be close, especially with 40% unaffiliated voters now in the district,” Rankin said Wednesday. “We knew we had to get some of those votes to win.”
Rankin, also from Carbondale, formerly served nine years in the state House of Representatives. He sought election to the Senate District 8 seat to which he was appointed in January 2019, replacing former Sen. Randy Baumgardner.
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