By Janet Simons
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
The tight-as-a-tick Senate District 26 race between Democrat Linda Newell and Republican Lauri Clapp ended on a grace note, with Clapp conceding and conveying her “sincere congratulations” to Newell on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
“I wish her the very best,” Clapp said in a press release. “She has a lot of work ahead of her, and I hope she is sensitive and responsive to the needs of our community.”
When all the provisional ballots were finally counted late in the evening of Nov. 18, the results came within 41 votes of triggering a mandatory recount. In the final tally, Newell led Clapp by 191 votes — 30,405 votes for Newell, 30,214 for Clapp. According to Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty, had the difference been 150 votes or less, a recount would have been required.
“It’s just one more reason to realize that every vote counts,” Doty said.
Newell, a business consultant, says she recognizes that her mandate is extremely slim and plans to heed Clapp’s call to be sensitive to the needs of a community that easily could have elected her opponent.
“It’s a strong message that this is a purple district,” said Newell. “Representing this district might call for votes that are more conservative than I might cast under different circumstances.
“I take that seriously, and I want to make sure that no matter how people voted, no matter how young or old they are, no matter what party they belong to, I will represent them.”
Newell, who could, perhaps, be considered the Legislature’s token purple state senator, says she has already approached Republican colleagues about co-sponsoring legislation and is scheduling a series of town halls and “listening tours” of her district.
“The onus is on me to educate the voters, to say, ‘Here’s how I voted. What do you think?’” she said.
“That communication will be critical if I’m going to be re-elected, and I’d like a better margin next time,” Newell said.
Meanwhile, she said, she’s grateful to Clapp for conceding rather than pushing for a recount.
“Now I’ll be able to sleep,” she said. “Ever since Election Day, whenever I close my eyes, all I see are ballots racing across my mental screen.
“I’ll welcome a good rest.”
SD 26, which mostly covers Arapahoe County and includes all or parts of Sheridan, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village, Centennial and BowMar, had been represented by Republican Steve Ward, who resigned the seat to pursue the Republican nomination for the 6th Congressional District.