Rankin-Hanlon Senate District 8 race could be headed for a recount
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Republican incumbent Sen. Bob Rankin maintains a narrow lead over Democratic challenger Karl Hanlon in the race for the Colorado Senate District 8 seat, which could end up in a recount.
As of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, vote tallies reported by the seven Senate District 8 counties to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office gave Rankin 50.3% of the vote to Hanlon’s 49.7%, with 550 votes separating the two.
State law requires an automatic recount if the margin is within 0.5%. The margin between Rankin and Hanlon stands at less than 1% with ballots still being counted in some counties.
Senate District 8 includes Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties. In Summit, Hanlon led with 65.1% of the vote.
“We knew it was going to be close, especially with 40% unaffiliated voters now in the district,” Rankin said Wednesday afternoon. “We knew we had to get some of those votes to win.”
Rankin congratulated Hanlon on a “hard-fought campaign” but decried some of the outside negative advertising directed at him.
“Karl and I had a civil campaign, but there were a lot of negative mailers, and that could have made a difference,” Rankin said. “I’m optimistic we’re going to win, but there are still some votes to be counted.”
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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.
“This is a district that is really focused on the issues and is trying to find a way to the candidate who can represent them on the issues that are really important to people,” Hanlon said late Tuesday as he waited for results.
As the race turned toward Rankin’s favor early Wednesday but remained too close to call, Hanlon said he wasn’t surprised.
“I had always said when we talked about this race during the campaign that it would come down to a couple hundred votes, and here we are,” Hanlon said Wednesday.
“The county clerks are working very hard to finalize their counts, so from our standpoint, we just have to be patient,” Hanlon said.
Returns had Hanlon, from Carbondale, winning in Routt and Summit counties, while Rankin had the edge in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Grand and Jackson counties.
Rankin, who formerly served nine years in the state House of Representatives, is also from the Carbondale area. He is seeking election to the Senate District 8 seat to which he was appointed in January 2019, replacing former Sen. Randy Baumgardner who retired after sexual harassment allegations and a subsequent investigation.
Rankin defeated Debra Irvine of Breckenridge in the June Republican primary. He serves as the senior member of the Joint Budget Committee.
Hanlon is a municipal and special district government and water attorney, who currently serves as the contract city attorney for Glenwood Springs and Silverthorne.
He and his wife, Sheryl Barto, run the Smiling Goat Ranch, which provides equine therapy services for autistic children and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hanlon ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2018, losing in the primary to Diane Mitsch Bush. He won this year’s primary for the state Senate seat over Democrat Arn Menconi of Eagle.
Even if an automatic recount is not triggered, election workers will have to go through the process of canvassing and certifying votes after all the ballots are counted, as they do in all races, Summit County Clerk and Recorder Kathleen Neel said Wednesday.
The official election results won’t be available until Thanksgiving, Neel said.
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