Following the money to the battleground races for state Legislature

It’s difficult to tell exactly where House Republicans are putting their money this year, since expenditures from their 527 group, the Colorado Leadership Fund, can’t be traced to specific races. The expenditures are going largely to various campaign mailing companies, according to state records.

Seats held by Democrats and coveted by Republicans

In an effort to find Republican targets, we looked at competitive districts where the Democratic brass is playing defense by offering support through the Democratic House Majority Project. Here’s what we found:

• House District 23: Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, has received $2,400 to use in her race against Mary Wagner, R-Golden.

• House District 27: Rep. Sara Gagliardi, D-Arvada, who picked up this seat for the Democrats in 2006, has received $4,500 to use in her race against John Bodnar, R-Arvada.

• House District 29: Rep. Debbie Benefield, D-Arvada, has received $8,400 to use in her race against Mary Arnold, R-Arvada.

• House District 31: Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton, has received $7,100 to use in her race against Holly Hansen, R-Thornton.

• House District 33: Rep. Dianne Primavera, D-Broomfield, who unseated Republican Bill Berens in 2006, has received $9,600 to use in her race against Nick Kliebenstein, R-Broomfield.

• House District 36: Su Ryden, D-Aurora, is running for the seat being vacated by Democrat Morgan Carroll, who’s running for the state Senate. She has received $7,000 to use in her race against Kathy Green, R-Aurora.

• House District 38: Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, has received $10,200 in party money, including in-kind contributions to use in his race against Dave Kerber, R-Greenwood Village.

• House District 52: Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, who picked up one of three new Democratic seats in 2006, recently received a $6,500 in-kind contribution from the party to use in his race against Bob McClusky, R-Fort Collins.

• House District 55: Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, is on the short list to replace term-limited Andrew Romanoff as speaker of the House. He has received just under $3,000 to help him in his efforts keep this conservative Western Slope district in his race against Laura Bradford, R-Colbran.

• House District 56: Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon, was appointed by a vacancy committee and took over the seat January. She has received $8,000 to use in her race against Ali Hasan, R-Avon, who has donated at least $200,000 of personal money to his campaign.

Seats held by Republicans and coveted by Democrats

The Democratic House Majority Project also is spending its money on races where they believe Republicans are vulnerable. These include:

• House District 22: Incumbent Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, faces Camille Ryckman, D-Lakewood. Ryckman recently received an in-kind contribution of more than $1,700 from the Democratic House Majority Project.

• House District 25: Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, hopes to keep an “R” on this open seat being vacated by Republican Rob Witwer. Her opponent, Andrew Scripter, D-Arvada, has received $10,000 from the Dems.

• House District 37: Incumbent Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, squeaked into office in 2006 with just 51 percent of the vote. He faces Diana Holland, D-Centennial, who recently received $10,000 from the Democratic House Majority Project.

• House District 39: David Balmer, R-Centennial, also faced Mollie Cullom, D-Centennial, in 2006 and won with just 52 percent of the vote. That must be why the Dems have given Cullom $4,000 — which won’t go very far against Balmer, who already has raised $117,630 for his race.

Dems may be eyeing these GOP seats, too

There also are several open races that, according to state records, have not attracted donations from the Democratic House Majority Project but which have been mentioned in interviews as possible battlegrounds. Those are:

• House District 17: Rep. Stella Garza-Hicks, R-Colorado Springs, isn’t running for re-election. The Republican nominee, Catherine “Kit” Roupe, of Colorado Springs, faces Colorado Springs Democrat Dennis Apuan.

• House District 45: Rep. Victor Mitchell, R-Castle Rock, isn’t running for another term. The race is an open contest between Republican Carole Murray and Democrat Holly Gorman, both of Castle Rock.

• House District 57: Incumbent Al White, R-Winter Park, is term-limited and is running for the state Senate, so the race for this district in northwestern corner of the state is an open contest between Democrat Todd Hagenbuch, of Phippsburg, and Republican Randy Baumgardner, of Hot Sulphur Springs.

• House District 58: Incumbent Ray Rose, R-Montrose, is opposed by Democrat Noelle Hagan, of Montrose.