A familiar face in the south metro area now moves up a notch on Colorado's political ladder, as Democratic state Rep. Jeff Bridges, of Greenwood Village, takes state Sen. Daniel Kagan's seat after …
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A familiar face in the south metro area now moves up a notch on Colorado's political ladder, as Democratic state Rep. Jeff Bridges, of Greenwood Village, takes state Sen. Daniel Kagan's seat after Kagan's resignation.
“We can show in the next two years a real difference in the lives of hardworking Coloradans,” Bridges said after roughly 100 Democratic party activists chose him by a wide margin over three other contenders for the Senate District 26 seat.
The district covers Littleton, Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, the Columbine Valley area and parts of Aurora.
Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, faced allegations in 2018 of being inside a restroom for female legislators and staff at the state Capitol multiple times. At the Jan. 5 meeting to replace him, Kagan said his using the bathroom — which was not marked as a women's room — was accidental and had “absolutely no bearing on my decision to step down.”
The vote to fill his seat took place at a vacancy committee, where local engaged party members and leaders in the Senate district's precincts — neighborhood-sized areas — gathered at the Englewood Civic Center to hear addresses by the candidates and vote. The meeting had 118 voters, said Mary Ellen Wolf, Arapahoe County Democrats' party chair.
Bridges, who received 70 percent of the vote, emphasized his two years of experience in the state Legislature. He warned that the 2020 election for the seat would be competitive, with unaffiliated voters outnumbering Republicans and Democrats in the area.
“I am ready for this fight,” Bridges told the audience. He currently represents House District 3, which covers Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village and some northern parts of Littleton.
Tied for second place were Angela Engel, a public-education activist and author who previously ran for the state House, and Iman Jodeh, the spokesperson for the Colorado Muslim Society and the executive director of Meet the Middle East, a group that seeks to foster relationships between the United States and Middle East. Both garnered 14 percent of the vote.
Kyle Schlachter, a Littleton city councilmember, garnered 2 percent of the vote but got a warm response from the audience.
Kagan's resignation takes effect Jan. 11.
Kagan speaks on stepdown
Kagan addressed the crowd on stage before results were announced, attributing his resignation to the fatigue he felt after nearly a decade of serving in the state Legislature.
“At the end of eight years in the state House, I felt I had done my bit — I was not going to run for Senate District 26,” Kagan said, recounting the story of how a party leader in the Legislature convinced him to vie for the seat.
He added he felt recently that he was “having to pull myself a little harder” to slog through the legislative process.
“So I sensed I might not be the best person to represent (the district) because I never wanted to look myself in the mirror and see a man who wasn't able to give 110 percent,” Kagan said.
Kagan has denied the accusation he was in the women's restroom at the Capitol more than once. A workplace harassment investigation found it more likely than not that Kagan used the wrong restroom in the building three times during the 2017 legislative session, Colorado Public Radio reported.
Kagan was appointed to the state House in 2009, was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2012 and 2014, and won the election for his Senate seat in 2016. He would have been up for re-election in 2020. Bridges was elected to the House in 2016 and was re-elected in November.
Bridges' seat filled by an old opponent
The Arapahoe County Democrats convened another vacancy committee to choose Bridges' successor for House District 3 the night of Jan. 7 at the Englewood Civic Center.
Competing in that vote were Meg Froelich, a former Greenwood Village city councilmember who ran against Bridges in the primary for the seat in 2016, and John Stone, a union organizer who spent much of 2018 supporting Democratic candidates for public office. Froelich pulled out the win.
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