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Colorado's primary has influential races on the ballot Tuesday

Political scientists note state and local leaders' growing influence amid gridlock in Congress and federal government
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Posted at 10:29 AM, Jun 25, 2024

DENVER — Turnout for Tuesday's Colorado state primary was around 16% as of Monday.

Coloradans have a choice of candidates for the state legislature, district attorneys and county commissioners during the June primary.

The candidates who end up being elected will ultimately have a significant amount of power, especially as state and local governments take up more issues of national significance.

Josh Wilson, a political science professor at the University of Denver, has focused much of his work on abortion politics.

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“When the federal government provides space, we can find a lot of variation among states,” Wilson said.

It’s not just abortion. Recently, places like Douglas County have passed policies on national issues like immigration.

This year, Colorado passed a first-in-the-nation law regulating artificial intelligence. States are also taking environmental regulation and voting rights into their own hands.

“It really allows these 50 states to serve their citizens that have different preferences and different interests better than we maybe could have with one overall national policy,” Metropolitan State University of Denver Political Science Chair Robert Preuhs said.

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Candidates elected to county, city and even school board positions also have a direct impact on issues impacting voters' daily lives than national leaders. They influence things like housing, roads and what’s taught in schools.

Preuce pointed out some county commissions have just three people on them, and that can mean a single person has a large influence on policies. Even in districts considered reliably Democratic or Republican, primaries are a chance for voters to signal how right or left leaning they want their community to be.

Colorado's primary has influential races on the ballot Tuesday