Democrat Kerry Donovan officially won the Senate District 5 seat formerly held by Democrat Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village Wednesday, completing a remarkable turnaround that at one point Tuesday night had her Republican opponent declaring victory on his Facebook page.
Donovan, a former Vail Town Council member, beat Orchard City Mayor Don Suppes 27,044 votes to 25,981, a 1,063-vote margin. SD5 is a sprawling seven-county district that includes the Aspen and Vail ski-resort counties of Pitkin and Eagle.
“We are so proud to announce that we have won the race for State Senate on the Western Slope and in the Arkansas Valley!” Donovan posted on her Facebook page just before 6 p.m., Wednesday. “Thank you to my amazing crew of volunteers and to everyone who has supported this campaign along the way, and an even bigger thanks to the voters for the historic turnout.
“I am honored to have the confidence of voters from Western Colorado to represent them in Denver. From building an economy that works for everyone and not just those at the top, to ensuring that our public lands and water are protected and cared for, the needs of our region are diverse and I look forward to working on its behalf in the State Senate.”
Suppes, whose campaign was marked by several Internet and ethical gaffes, at one point Tuesday night declared victory only to backtrack once more ballots were counted overnight.
“A lot can change in 7 hours,” Suppes wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday morning. “It seems late returns from Pitkin County may have cost us the race. It appears we may have lost by 750 votes out of over 50,000 votes cast.”
Supporters were clamoring for a recount in comments on his post, but Suppes finally posted a concession note on his Facebook page at about 8:30 p.m., Wednesday:
“Friends, it is with a sad heart that I report to you that our bid for the State Senate has come to an end. We fell short by about 1000 votes in over 50,000 votes cast. While there were some highlights in yesterday’s election results like taking back a US Senate seat, we were unsuccessful on a local level here in District 5. I cannot say thank you enough to all of my supporters, I am truly humbled by all the help I have received in the last 18 months. I respect the decision of the voters but I encourage you all to stay involved. Remember these elected officials work for us and we need to hold them accountable. God bless you all.”
The Democratic majorities in both the Colorado House and Senate were still up in the air Thursday morning, with votes being tallied in several Front Range counties, according to the Denver Post.