After each election, we go over the results to try to figure out what caused the results to turn out the way they did and what we here in Delta County can do to do better. So, we have been looking at the November 7, 2023 election results. Let’s take a look at what happened.
Statewide there are 3,937,388 active voters; 1,700,523 voters voted, which is a 43.19% voter turnout.
In Delta County there are 23,340 active voters; 11,244 voters voted, which is a 48.17% voter turnout.
In the state-wide ballot issues:
Proposition HH received 682,667 votes for (40.69%) and 995,259 votes against or 59.31% - nearly 19% difference.
Proposition II received 1,139047 votes for and 543,405 against (32.47%) – a 35% difference.
In Delta County:
School Board Results:
--Tony Bohling was unopposed in District 2; he received 7,089 votes or 63% of the total votes cast (11,244).
--Beth Suppes was also unopposed in District 3; she received 7,306 votes or 65% of the total votes cast (11,244).
--District 4 was a competitive race: the incumbent, Dan Burke, was the winner; he received 5,402 votes (56% of the votes cast for this race and 48% of the total votes cast in the election (11,244).
--The challenger, Hardy Hutto, received 4,245 votes (44% of the votes cast for this race, and 38% of the total votes cast in the election (11,244).
Let’s look at the voting by party in Delta County. There were 5,178 Republicans, 4,284 Unaffiliateds and 1,690 Democrats who voted in the election. This adds up to almost 99% of the votes cast. In addition, there were 133 votes cast by voters registered to the 7 other registered parties (Green, Libertarian, etc.) for just over 1% of the votes. The 5,178 voting Republicans are approximately 50% of the total registered active Republicans in Delta County. This is a higher voter turnout than in the 2021 off-year election, which was 44%. The statewide turnout was also up in the 2023 election, 43% or up 10% from 33% in 2021. A final note on the Delta County election, the election judges rejected 64 ballots for signature issues (that’s 0.56% of the total ballots cast); with 18 of them, or 28%, “cured” by voters.
So, what can we conclude from this analysis of the voter turnout?
Proposition HH probably motivated more people to vote in this election than in past off-year elections.
However, half of the Republican registered voters in Delta County did not vote. We are going to have to work at getting them to vote in 2024. This is critical.
Nearly 15% of the voters who voted, did not vote in the competitive School Board race in District 4. If these 1,597 voters had cast a vote in this race, could it have changed the outcome? It’s very possible.
Challenger Hardy Hutto did fairly well against incumbent Dan Burke. He did lose by 1,157 votes but 4,245 voters did vote for him and this was 38% of the total ballots cast in the election. Not bad for a newcomer and in spite of the inherent advantage that incumbents have.
But most of all I think this shows we need to work harder to get the vote out and do a better job in educating the voters on the issues.
An interesting sidenote on in-person voting, from the website Politico. One measure of the Colorado system's popularity: By late Tuesday, just close to 23,000 Coloradans had chosen to vote in person, just over 1% of the nearly 1.7 million who filled out their paper ballots and either put them in the mail or deposited them in drop-boxes. For all the complaints expressed by critics of mail ballots, it's clear voters overwhelmingly appear to prefer the method. Delta County followed this same trend. There were 131 voters who voted in person, which is just over 1% of the voters who voted.
The Special Session of the Legislature
Now I’d like to move on to another topic - the Special Session of the Legislature. As a result of Proposition HH failing, Governor Jared Polis called for a special legislative session to begin on November 17, 2024. The Special Session lasted from Friday, November 17th to Monday afternoon, November 20th or 4 days. The primary focus of the session was supposed to be property tax relief, but the call for the special session was not just for giving Colorado taxpayers property tax relief, but a backdoor for the Democrat majority to push what they wanted with minimal attention. Some of the most crucial topics (other than property tax relief) included in the call were Rental Assistance, the TABOR Refund mechanism, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Feeding Colorado’s food insecure kids during the summer.
Fourteen total bills were brought in the Special Session, 8 house bills and 6 senate bills. Of those bills, 7 passed. The bills that were passed were all passed on a partisan basis – Democrats voting for and Republicans voting against. The 7 Bills and 1 Resolution are:
SB23B-001 Property Tax Relief Bill. Reduces the state property tax assessment rate to 6.7%. Increases the property tax exemption amount to $50,000. Changes the backfill mechanisms and amounts for local governments.
SB23B-002 Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer Program. Appropriates ~$3 million to the Colorado Dept. of Health & Human Services and ~$170 thousand to the Colorado Dept. of Education to administer the Federal Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children. The program gives money per eligible child per month on an electronic card for the purchase of food during the months children are not in school.
SB23B-003 Identical Tabor Refund. This is a temporary TABOR refund mechanism that returns all sales tax refunds in an equal amount for all taxpayers (regardless of how much tax paid).
HB23B-1001 Emergency Rental Assistance Grant Program. Creates a program to provide renters who are at risk of eviction with monetary assistance. The funds will be administered by non-profits directly to landlords.
HB23B-1002 Increased Earned Income Tax Credit. Increases the Colorado Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 25% to 50% of the Federal EITC by using the TABOR surplus funds.
HB23B-1003 Creates a Property Tax taskforce which shall study and develop a sustainable and permanent Property tax structure for Colorado.
HB23B-1008 Appropriates money to the Department of Treasury for the administration of Property Tax deferral
SJR23B-001 Resolution on Adjournment Sine Die.
What exactly do these bills do?
SB23B-001 reduced the residential assessment rate for the 2023 tax year to 6.7% from 6.765%. And they increased the amount of a home’s value that is exempt from taxation to $55,000 from the current $15,000. Some sources are saying this will reduce 2023 property taxes, that will be paid in 2024, by $200. There are concerns that the $55,000 assessed value exemption from property taxes for a principal residence, is in violation of the state constitution. The state constitution requires uniform assessed values except as stated in the constitution itself.
SB23B-001 and HB23B-1001 will reduce TABOR refunds by about 15%. The Dems claim they can use TABOR refunds to cover these items because the benefits go to some of the folks. But that is true of all state spending. TABOR refunds are supposed to be paid to all “the folks” in some relationship to what each person paid in income taxes. In SB23B, the Dems are illegally directing TABOR refund money to their special interest groups, not all the people who paid.
SB23B-003 calls for TABOR refunds to be $800 for single tax filers and $1,600 for joint tax filers (For Taxpayers making less than $104,000). Refunds for higher earning taxpayers go down from there.
HB23B-1001, the rental assistance program is emergency rental assistance for households making up to 80% of the median income for their area. To qualify, renters have to be able to show financial hardship that puts them at risk of eviction.
HB23B-1002 increased the earned income child credit (a credit toward income taxes [refundable even if in excess of income tax paid?]) by $182.5 million. Both the original earned income child credit and this increase are funded illegally by raiding TABOR refunds.
The other two bills and the resolution are self-evident, so I won’t go over them.
The 7 bills that were killed by the Democrats in Committee were: SB23B-004, SB23B-005, SB23B-006, HB23B-1004, HB23B-1005, HB23B-1006 and HB23B-1007. HB23B-006 was a Real Property Valuation Cap that was co-sponsored by Rep. Matt Soper.
The long-term effects of these violations of TABOR are potentially devastating. The mechanism of using TABOR refunds to benefit only favored groups will enable Dems in the future to eliminate TABOR refunds entirely and direct the money to their hobby horse projects.
This has not been challenged by the GOP or other groups for fear the Colorado courts would decide in favor of the illegal spending.
Information provided by Matt Soper on the Special Session. Unrelated to any of the work of the legislature, Pro-Palestine protests erupted multiple times in the House gallery. The first came on Friday, November 17th when they erupted in chanting and prepared monologues. The House paused its business and went into a recess. The House Sergeants at Arms and Colorado State Patrol peaceably removed the protesters who continued to chant from the House visitors gallery. These same protestors reconvened outside of the Senate Gallery and were joined by Representatives Hernandez, Jodeh, Mabrey, and Bacon. After some hearty renditions of the chant ‘Free, free Palestine (Free, free Palestine)’ from the protestors, the Representatives left the group during which Representative Hernandez stuck his fist in the air in solidarity with them.
The second protest erupted in the House gallery, once again, the fourth and final day of the special session, Monday, November 20th. There was a third reading debate on SB23B-002 when the protestors entered the House gallery. Representative Elizabeth Epps was speaking at the well (the place where we debate on the House floor) and at the end of her speech made a point of emphasis on how she believes that we are complicit in the starvation of Palestinian children because the US was a part of an aide blockade to Gaza. Rep. Epps ended her speech saying “Free Palestine”.
Elisabeth Epps is the representative for HD06. Her district includes the Capitol Hill, Montclair and Windsor Gardens neighborhoods in Denver. For 45 minutes of the 1-hour debate, Epps used the amendment to accuse Israel of engaging in genocide. After her 45 minutes speaking on the Floor, she then moved up to the Gallery, where she joined other anti-Israel protestors. She then shouted numerous times interrupting Ron Weinberg, Republican Representative for HD51 and a Jew. The Speaker of the House called numerous recesses to try to deal with the disruptions. I’ve watched several videos of this. It was unseemly and disruptive. What is surprising to me is that there is no coverage of this on the Western Slope. Like so much that occurred in the Special Session. Let me quote Representative Soper - I was disappointed by the outcome of this special session. We did not work together and we did not listen to the will of the people. What we saw was an escalation from the regular session which was the most-tense and partisan I had ever seen in my 5 years as a legislator. This next regular session will be a true test of our ability to come together and solve real problems for real Coloradans, instead of sensational and vitriolic politics.
I did a lot of searching on the Internet for information on the Special Legislative Session. It was challenging to get facts. There is a lot of generic reporting and interpretation with very few actual facts. However, I was able to speak with Representative Matt Soper. He has started a website called The Western Slope Statesman. And he is putting out a newsletter on this site. The website address is repmattsoper.substack.com You can sign up to receive his newsletter and I would encourage you to do so. His newsletter was the best source of information I found on the Special Legislative session. Most of the facts that I have came from his newsletter.
Upcoming Dates and Events in 2024
Another matter I want to go over are the plans for the 2024 Caucuses, County Assembly and remaining dates for the 2024 Election. This next year is going to be another busy election year. I believe the Delta County Republicans are going to need to be very active in order to be successful in the election. We are starting to get prepared. Here are some of the dates that we need to keep in mind and plan on:
The Presidential Primary Election in Colorado was set by Governor Polis for Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
The Delta County Caucuses will be held in the evening of Thursday, March 7, 2024 at four locations in the County – Delta area precincts, Precincts 1-8, will be held at the Delta Middle School; Cedaredge area precincts, Precincts 9-14, will be held at the Cedaredge Middle School; Hotchkiss area precincts, Precincts 15, 16 & 17 will be held at the Hotchkiss K-8 School; and the Paonia area precincts, Precincts 18, 19 & 20, will be held at the Paonia Elementary School. The State Party is pushing the CRCAS program to pre-register for the Caucuses. We used it for the last caucuses, two years ago, and it seemed to work well. We’ll be talking more about this at a later time.
The Delta County Assembly will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2024, 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Delta County Center for the Performing Arts.
The Colorado GOP State Convention will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2024 in Pueblo, at the Pueblo Fairgrounds.
Some of the various District Assemblies, HD54, HD58, SD5, SD7, CD3 and JD5 will be held in conjunction with the State Assembly. Those that are, will be held on April 5,2023 in Pueblo, at the Pueblo Convention Center. Though HD54 and SD7 will probably be on Saturday, March 30th, held in conjunction with the Mesa County Assembly.
The Colorado State Primary is Tuesday, June 25, 2024.
General Election will be Tuesday, November 5, 2024.
The Delta County Lincoln Day Dinner will be on Saturday, June 22, 2024 at Heritage Hall at the Delta County Fairgrounds in Hotchkiss.
So, like I said it is going to be a busy political year. I hope we can all put in the effort we are going to need to be successful.
Our next DCRCC monthly meeting is going to be on January 9, 2024 at the Surface Creek Community Church in Austin. The meeting starts at 6:00 pm and we try to finish by 7:30 pm. Hope to see you there.
Chairman, Delta County Republican Central Committee
PS –Remember you can donate to the Delta County Republican Central Committee, by going to our website https://www.deltacoloradogop.com Since we won’t have the Headquarters open for most of this year, donations are critical in helping build up our bank account so we have funds for supporting our candidates in the 2024 election. An individual donation of $20 is a great small donation. You can also donate in person at our monthly meeting. Thank you! db