Newell keeps state Senate seat

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Democratic state Sen. Linda Newell kept her seat in the hotly contested District 26 race, according to unofficial election results released in the early hours of Nov. 7.

Newell got 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Republican challenger Dave Kerber.

“I’m just grateful that it was decisive enough that I don’t have to wait two weeks,” said Newell, a Littleton resident. “The people saw through the negativity, and they saw the spirit and the integrity of what we were doing in our campaign. I’m honored to continue to represent a purple district in a purple way.”

After an earlier release of partial returns on Election Night, Kerber wasn’t completely convinced that Newell’s lead would hold, and said he wasn’t quite ready to make a congratulatory phone call.

“It is a pretty substantial deficit. But we’ll wait a little bit, but I’m still hopeful,” Kerber, a resident of Greenwood Village, said on Election Night. “It’s a good night for Democrats. It’s very different than what we heard on the streets. I’ll probably sleep on it, but good for her.”

Though only one candidate could win, they’re probably both glad the down-and-dirty race is over. While the candidates themselves kept their ads positive, their backers did no such thing. Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government raised $800,000 it spent on ads suggesting Newell hates kids and didn’t pay her taxes. In turn, Coalition for Colorado’s Future raised more than $4.4 million to hint that Kerber hates Medicare and mammograms.

Money turned out to be predictive in the battle. As of Nov. 2, Kerber had raised $105,718, plus a $15,000 loan to himself and $20,000 in kind. He’d spent $77,317 of that.

Newell raised $212,674 plus $1,376 in kind. She’d spent $184,842, more than double Kerber’s expenditures.

The district — which includes Littleton, Englewood, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village and parts of Aurora, Centennial and Foxfield — is about evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and independents. How Arapahoe County votes is often considered indicative of how the national election might turn out, and that was true this year, too, with President Obama retaining his seat.

Asked in September what three priorities she’d tackle if re-elected, Newell said partisan bickering, jobs and education, pointing to her work to help people get jobs and entrepreneurs start businesses through community workshops and networking.

“(People) want more Colorado jobs, and they want leaders who are willing to put the economy before politics,” she said.

Newell said she’ll continue her twice-monthly town halls to connect with constituents.

“It’s something I do every year — invite our community members to join me in looking at the best ideas for resolving these issues,” she said. “Some of my very best bills have come from constituent ideas. We have to continue growing our economy. And I think together, we can come up with more solutions.”

“I have crossed the aisle many times, and I have bucked my own caucus,” Newell said at a debate in October. “What is important in the Senate is a more moderate voice.”

Kerber and Newell ran simultaneous campaigns in 2008, as well, with similar results. Newell edged out Republican Lauri Clapp, and Kerber barely lost to Democratic incumbent Joe Rice in House District 38.