In House District 38, Ortiz wins back seat for Democrats

National politics, changing demographics played roles, candidates say

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 11/8/20

Democratic candidate David Ortiz bested Republican incumbent Richard Champion in state House District 38, the first time in a decade a Democrat has won the seat. Ortiz, a nonprofit manager and Army …

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In House District 38, Ortiz wins back seat for Democrats

National politics, changing demographics played roles, candidates say

Posted

Democratic candidate David Ortiz bested Republican incumbent Richard Champion in state House District 38, the first time in more than a decade a Democrat has won the seat.

Ortiz, a nonprofit manager and Army veteran, held 55.5% of the vote in unofficial results on Nov. 7 to Champion's 44.4%.

The district, which covers much of Littleton, west Centennial, Bow Mar, Columbine Valley and parts of unincorporated Jefferson County, has been in Republican hands since early 2011, following Kathleen Conti's victory over incumbent Democrat Joe Rice in the 2010 election.

Republican Susan Beckman narrowly won reelection to the seat in 2018, but stepped down in early 2020 to take a federal post. Champion was selected by a Republican Party vacancy committee.

Ortiz attributed the win to “a multitude of things.”

“The (Trump) administration nationally had something to do with it,” Ortiz said. “We saw record turnout, even for local and city races.”

Ortiz said partisan allegiance played a role, saying Democrats were aware the seat was narrowly held and ripe to be flipped. Beckman won by just 374 votes in 2018.

However, Ortiz also cited his record of public and military service, and a desire to reach across the aisle.

“All my advocacy at the state level has had bipartisan support,” Ortiz said. “People are tired of hyperpartisan rhetoric and fighting, and they're looking for leaders to heal that. I ran as a Democrat, but I'm fighting for equity, and to make health care a right for all. There's room for compromise.”

Ortiz said he is spending the days after the election working with advisers to craft legislation for the upcoming session, and hoping to work with local municipal leaders to secure funding to support outdoor dining grants for local restaurants hit hard by pandemic restrictions.

Ortiz also trounced Champion in fundraising, raking in more than $220,000 in campaign contributions to Champion's $57,000.

Champion said he felt the fundraising totals were concerning.

“For a House race?” Champion said. “But the people have spoken, and they'll get the governance they wanted.”

Champion, also an Army veteran and the former mayor of Columbine Valley, said his time in the state House has been a great honor.

“It has been such a privilege to represent the good people of District 38,” he said. “I hope I've at least been able to get the folks on the other side of the aisle to consider different approaches. If I could go back, I don't think I'd do anything differently.”

Champion acknowledge his loss as part of the “blue wave” that swept the Denver suburbs in the 2020 election, with Democrats elected by healthy margins in most offices.

“We have a lot of people moving into the district, and all of Arapahoe County, who don't share the conservative values I grew up with,” Champion said. “They believe, right or wrong, that government is better than individual freedoms. Still, the beauty of our democracy is that once the electorate has spoken, you move on. I believe in the American way.”

Ortiz said if Republicans want to win back seats locally, they ought to look in the mirror.

“The national climate absolutely had an impact” on local races, Ortiz said. “Voters outright rejected the values this presidential administration holds: attacking scientists and doctors, apologizing for white supremacists and politicizing something as simple and effective as a face mask. If conservatives want a future in Colorado, they should take note that the people of this state reject hate, bigotry and conspiracy theory. They should stick to talking about lowering taxes and small government.”

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