DENVER — Republicans are deciding on candidates to challenge for the governor's office, U.S. House of Representatives and legislative seats that could tip the balance of power in the state Senate. Also, a Front Range community will make clear its opinion on hydraulic fracturing. Here are five things to know about Colorado's primary elections Tuesday:
FOUR-WAY GOVERNOR CONTEST
Four Republicans want to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Polling is spotty and turnout is expected to be low, so even GOP insiders say they're not sure who will take the contest. The candidates: Former U.S. Reps. Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former state Sen. Mike Kopp. The winner faces an uphill race against Hickenlooper, who has a sizable fundraising advantage and has led all the Republican hopefuls in hypothetical polling matchups.
OPEN CONGRESSIONAL CONTEST
There's a hot Republican primary in the sprawling 4th Congressional District, Colorado's only open congressional seat. Rep. Cory Gardner is running for U.S. Senate, leaving the safely Republican district up for grabs. This contest has four GOP hopefuls, too, including Weld County prosecutor and former GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck, and state Sen. Scott Renfroe. The winner will likely cruise to victory in November.
Another congressional primary worth watching is in Colorado Springs, where four-term Rep. Doug Lamborn faces a challenge in the 5th District from Air Force veteran Bentley Rayburn. Lamborn has beaten Rayburn twice before, and this one has turned especially nasty. A tea party group backs Rayburn, but Lamborn says he's as conservative as they come. As in the 4th District, the GOP has an overwhelming advantage, making the primary winner the likely victor in November.
LEGISLATIVE RACES TO WATCH
Democrats have a one-seat majority in the state Senate, and political observers are keeping tabs on GOP primaries in two Jefferson County districts that could prove central for chamber control in November. The primaries feature two candidates backed by the influential Rocky Mountain Gun Owners against Republicans considered more centrist. The winners take on Democratic Sens. Andy Kerr and Rachel Zenzinger in November.
Loveland is the sixth Front Range community taking a vote on whether to ban or limit the drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing. The gas and oil industry, along with Hickenlooper, says communities are not allowed to enact local curbs. But the governor has so far failed to persuade the industry and its critics to compromise to forestall fracking ballot measures. The Loveland vote sets the stage for possible broader fracking votes in November.