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Stand for Children makes its endorsements

The education advocacy group Stand for Children has endorsed a split ticket of six Democrats and five Republicans in 2012 races for seats in the Colorado legislature.

The group endorsed Republicans over veteran Democrats Sen. Evie Hudak and Andy Kerr in two battleground Jefferson County races but split its support in six other close contests, endorsing three Democrats and three Republicans.

Stand endorsed five incumbents in the 11 races, all of them Democrats. (Three of the races don’t have incumbents on the ballot.)

Here’s the rundown of Stand’s endorsements, plus snapshots of the races and the involvement of other education groups:

House

House District 3 (Greenwood Village area) – Stand endorsed GOP businessman Brian Watson over Rep. Daniel Kagan. The race is considered tight; groups affiliated with the Colorado Education Association have contributed to Kagan.

House District 18 (Southern Colorado Springs) – Democratic Rep. Pete Lee got the endorsement over Republican businesswoman Jennifer George in a rare Democratic seat in El Paso County. Unions also support Lee.

House District 23 (Golden area) – The endorsement went to GOP businessman Rick Enstrom (of the candy family) over Democratic Rep. Max Tyler. This is one of the battleground Jeffco races, and the unions back Tyler.

House District 28 (Lakewood) – Stand endorsed GOP businesswoman Amy Attwood over Democrat Brittany Pettersen, a community organizer. This is another tight race, with unions backing Pettersen.

House District 50 (Greeley) – Democratic Rep. Dave Young, a former middle school teacher, got the nod over Republican Skip Carlson, an insurance agent. Observers put Young ahead. He’s received union contributions.

House District 61 (Central mountains) – Stand endorsed Democratic Rep. Millie Hamner, former superintendent of the Summit County schools. She faces Republican Debra Irvine and independent Kathleen Curry, who formerly served in the House as a Democrat. (Stand endorsed Curry in 2010 when she ran as an independent in a different district.) Unions have contributed to Hamner.

Senate

Senate District 19 (Northern Jeffco) – Republican Lang Sias, an Iraq vet and unsuccessful 2010 congressional candidate, was endorsed over Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak, a former member of the State Board of Education. This is a key race where the unions are backing Hudak, who recently had to leave a candidate forum because of a vertigo attack.

Senate District 22 (Central and southern Jeffco) – Republican Rep. Ken Summers got the endorsement. He faces Democratic fellow Rep. Andy Kerr, a Jeffco schools curriculum specialist, in what’s seen as one of the closest 2012 races. The unions back Kerr.

Senate District 25 (Adams County) – Stand endorsed Democratic Sen. Mary Hodge over Republican retired federal ICE agent John Sampson. Pundits give the edge to Hodge, who’s received union contributions.

Senate District 26 (Northern Arapahoe County) – This is another too-close-to-call race where Stand has endorsed Democratic Sen. Linda Newell over GOP businessman David Kerber. Unions have contributed to Newell.

Senate District 35 (More than a dozen counties in southeastern Colorado) – Democrat Crestina Martinez, a Costilla County commissioner, got the endorsement over GOP rancher Larry Crowder. This is another close race, and Martinez has received union funding.

Of the candidates with prior legislative experience, Hamner, Hudak, Summers and Kerr have been the most active on education issues and have served on the House or Senate education committees. Newell was a key sponsor of the 2012 law to ease school zero-tolerance discipline policies.

Stand in politics

Stand entered the Colorado political scene with the 2009 Denver school board races.

In 2010, it endorsed 18 legislative candidates, 12 Democrats, six Republicans and one independent. Fifteen of those candidates won their elections.

Stand contributed a total of more than $32,000 to nine of its endorsed candidates two years ago. The group hadn’t made contributions as of the Aug. 1 reporting deadline. The group’s political committee, formed in 2009 for Denver races, has $32,761 on hand. A separate small donor committee reported less than $500 in the bank as of Aug. 1. The next reporting deadline for fundraising and contributions is Tuesday.

Stand spokeswoman Sonja Semion said the group is still deciding on financial and other support for individual candidates.

The Stand 2012 endorsements, released Thursday, also include incumbent State Board of Education member Angelika Schroeder, a Democrat running in the 2nd Congressional District. She’s opposed by Republican Anne Fattor of Black Hawk. In the 4th District Republican Pamela Mazanec of Larkspur has no major-party opposition.

Another advocacy group, Democrats for Education Reform, is expected to announce its legislative endorsements in the next couple of weeks.

Republicans current have a 33-32 majority in the state House, while Democrats control the Senate 20-15. But retirements and term limits mean at least a third of lawmakers will be new in 2013, so both parties are waging vigorous campaigns in key districts in efforts to gain statehouse control.

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