The deadly battle between Democrats Katie March and Elisabeth Epps for Capitol Hill-based House District 6 remains too close to call.
Epps and March are separated by 34 votes with 12,464 votes cast at 11:30 p.m. The race, in fact, narrowed from previous tallies, when March led by 333, then by about 225 votes.
March has so far won 50.14% of the vote, while Epps follows with 49.86%.
As redrawn by the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission, House District 6 extends from the State Capitol on its western edge to Lowry and Fairmont Cemetery on the east, including all or part of Capitol Hill , Uptown, Congress Park, Cheesman Park, East Colfax, Hale and Montclair neighborhoods in Denver and Lowry and Windsor Gardens in Aurora. The neighborhood is 67% white, the highest among Denver’s House neighborhoods.
March did well with voters in Congress Park, Windsor Gardens, Hale and Montclair neighborhoods; Epps’ strengths are in Capitol Hill, Uptown and the Lowry neighborhoods.
The struggle between the March and Epps camps reflects intra-party divisions between establishment Democrats and the progressive wing of the party. March, a former legislative aide, has won support from two of her former bosses, House Speaker Alec Garnett, whom she hopes to replace, and former Speaker Crisanta Duran, as well as so-called “leadership funds.” run by 19 current and former Democratic lawmakers. Many see these leadership funds as a way around low state campaign finance limits that cap donations at $400 per election cycle per individual.
Mars has raised $183,000 through June 22, according to the latest campaign finance filing deadline.
March also has support, in the form of more than $326,000, from outside groups, mostly Democrats for Progressive Leadership. The independent spending committee got most of its money from the We Mean Business Coalition, another independent spending committee headed by former state senator Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who went from Democrat to unaffiliated in 2017. We Mean Business gets its biggest contributions. from education groups, such as the Colorado League for Charter Schools and Raising Colorado, which is affiliated with Democrats for Education Reform, a New York-based hedge fund that supports charter schools and opposes teacher unions. He also received donations from realtors and pharmaceutical PACs and One Main Street Colorado, which was accused of organizing a poll that Camp Epps accused of being racist. One Main Street received most of its contributions from unions.
Epps, a well-known advocate for criminal justice reform, drew most of her support from the progressive wing of the Democratic party, including state Rep. Leslie Herod, the Senses. Julie Gonzales and Pete Lee, and Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca. She is also backed by unions that have been her main contributors to the campaign, including the Colorado State Employees Union WINS, its affiliate SEIU, as well as the Colorado Working Families Party.
As of June 22, Epps had topped March by just over $10,000, but Epps hasn’t fared as well with support from outside groups, who have backed her to around $144,000. Most of this support came from the Colorado Working Families IEC.
The race also sowed discord within the neighborhood’s Jewish community. Epps was accused of making anti-Israel comments several years ago, but said she favors a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine issue and denies being anti-Semitic. She won support from Jewish lawmakers, including Democratic Rep. Stephen Woodrow of Denver. On the other hand, an IEC, Denver Against Antisemitism, ran pro-March* ads in the Denver Intermountain Jewish News.
The biggest issues in the March-Epps race have been criminal justice, abortion, gun violence prevention, climate change and affordable housing.
The March-Epps race is the subject of an upcoming New York Times/HBO documentary.
Editor’s note: Denver Against Antisemitism ran pro-March ads in the Intermountain Jewish News; a different group aired anti-Epps ads.