Even without term limits, Colorado lawmakers say good-bye

Not a single House Republican is term limited this year — which is a legislative record — but six of them won’t be coming back anyway.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with two Senate Democrats who are term limited, Lucia Guzman of Denver and Andy Kerr of Lakewood. (SOS photo)

That’s because five of the GOP members are running for another office and the sixth, Yeullin Willett of Grand Junction, chose not to run again.

Every two years, the House and Senate chambers say good-bye to the members who won’t be back, usually because of term limits, which voters approved in 1990 and went into effect in 1998. House members can serve four, two-year terms, senators can serve two, four-year terms.

On the last day of the 2018 session, on May 9, Willett pointed out how many lawmakers who were sworn in with him in 2015 were already gone, backing up the point made by the late, great political sage, Jerry Kopel.

Former lawmaker Jerry Kopel. (Dave Kopel photo)

“Term limit supporters claim it’s necessary to limit terms so legislators don’t overstay. But a little research casts doubt on the idea that overstaying was ever a problem. It would seem the whole reason for term limits is based on a myth of political junky careerist state legislators,” the former lawmaker wrote in 2008.

Kopel’s research showed that an average of 22 or 23 legislators were gone every two years without term limits being involved. Some died in office, others lost elections. And of course some resigned or chose not to run again.

This year, eight of the Senate’s 35 members are term limited. And 17 of the 65 representatives won’t return to the House next year for one reason or another. Here’s a breakdown of departing lawmakers by chamber and by caucus:

Senate President Kevin Grantham received gifts from his caucus on the last day of the legislative session. The Cañon City Republican is term limited. (SOS photo)

SENATE REPUBLICANS

Term limited: President Kevin Grantham of Cañon City, Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs and Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud

SENATE DEMOCRATS

Term limited: Assistant Minority Leader Lucia Guzman of Denver, Irene Aguilar of Denver and Andy Kerr of Lakewood.

Of note:  Michael Merrifield* of Colorado Springs chose not to seek a second term. Matt Jones and John Kefalas are not term limited but are running for Boulder County commissioner and Larimer County commissioner respectively. Should they win, vacancy committees in their districts will select a replacement to fill out the remaining two years of their terms.

SENATE OTHER

Term limited: Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge used to be a Democrat but switched to unaffiliated before the 2018 session began in January.

Speaker Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, is one of the term limited lawmakers. (House photo)

HOUSE DEMOCRATS

Term limited: Speaker Crisanta Duran of Denver, Millie Hamner of Dillon, Pete Lee of Colorado Springs (who is running for the state Senate), Dan Pabon of Denver and Dave Young of Greeley (who is running for state treasurer).

Of note: These lawmakers are not term limited but also are leaving the House after this year:

Joe Salazar of Thornton is running for attorney general; Mike Foote of Lafayette is running for Boulder County district attorney; and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Faith Winter are running for the Senate.

Paul Rosenthal of Denver failed to make the ballot at his House district assembly.

Rep. Yeulin Willett used glitter to create a patriotic beard on the last day of the session. (SOS photo)

HOUSE REPUBLICANS

Term limited: None

Of note: These lawmakers are not term limited but also are leaving the House after this year:

Paul Lundeen of Monument and Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction are running for the Senate; Justin Everett of Littleton and Polly Lawrence of Douglas County are running for state treasurer; and Jon Becker of Fort Morgan is running for county commissioner.

And Willett, who could have served two more terms, chose not to run again.

*Updated version notes that Sen. Michael Merrifield is leaving after one term and is not, as earlier reported, term limited.

2 thoughts on “Even without term limits, Colorado lawmakers say good-bye

  1. Actually, Michael Merrifield is not term-limited. He chose to leave after one term.

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