Two Aurora Democratic legislators say they are ready for leap to Colorado Senate

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AURORA | Two Aurora Democrats who serve in the state House have filed to run for the District 29 state Senate seat held by Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, who is term-limited after 2016.

A Democratic primary between state Reps. Rhonda Fields and Su Ryden could prove competitive, according to one political expert, because the candidates may have trouble standing out from one another. 

Rhonda Fields and Su Ryden
Rhonda Fields and Su Ryden

“I don’t know if there are any issues they strongly disagree on. In this case, the campaign takes on greater importance,” said Norman Provizer, a political science professor with Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Both come with credible records serving in the state House.”

He said the race will come down to who can best target voters in a district with a large minority population that already leans Democratic.

The district is 32 percent Hispanic, 18 percent black and 5 percent Asian. It runs roughly from East Colfax Avenue south to East Mississippi Avenue, and the Denver/Aurora border east to the border between Arapahoe County and Elbert County.

“It’s the right time,” said Fields, who has served in House District 42 since 2010, on why she entered the race. “We’re losing people who have been very strong and aggressive leaders in the Senate because of term limits: Morgan Carroll, Pat Steadman, Michael Johnston. I’m a viable candidate to step in and deal with legislation that’s important to the people of Colorado.”

Fields said she plans to focus on legislation that helps the under-served and working class, and wants to focus on making K-12 and higher education more affordable.

Fields was the first African American woman elected from House District 42. She became active in state politics after becoming involved in victims rights and criminal justice issues after her son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe, were gunned down in 2005 just days before Marshall-Fields could testify in another shooting.

“I don’t know if there are any issues they strongly disagree on. In this case, the campaign takes on greater importance,” said Norman Provizer, a political science professor with Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Both come with credible records serving in the state House.”

She has been in the thick of many controversial bills, many which eventually were signed into law. This year she sponsored a bill that was signed into law criminalizing cyber bullying. Fields has also been an important part of controversial gun-control legislation passed in 2013 after the Aurora theater shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Ryden, who has served eastern Aurora’s House District 36 since 2008 and is term-limited next year, said Buckley Air Force Base is her primary campaign issue. She said that protecting the base from encroachment is particularly important with the potential for base realignments and closures in coming years. 

“Buckley  has a huge economic impact on our whole community and the state,” she said, pointing to legislation she sponsored in 2014 that allowed a research firm to assess Buckley’s economic impact. That study, which was released to the public this month, showed the state sees upwards of $27 billion in annual output from Department of Defense spending, and that the state receives about 7 percent of the country’s total aerospace workforce.

“As chair of the  State, Veterans, and Military affairs Committee, I get any bills having to do with veterans and military affairs. I’ve become leading expert in the House on those matters,” she said. 

Carroll has held the seat since 2009, and was re-elected over Republican challenger Bill Ross by a comfortable 59 percent in 2012.

Provizer said the district has not seen a dramatic demographic changes since then and that both candidates would be wise to expand on the legacy she leaves in the district since she is well-liked.

“You never want to be viewed as a carbon copy of somebody else. At the same time, it’s not a bad idea to see what worked on the past and follow through with it,” he said.

No Republican candidates have so far filed to run in the district.

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Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
6 years ago

I am going to change my affiliation to democrat and vote for Fields. If she is truly as dumb as a box of hammers like people say we need her leading the democrats.

True Patriot
True Patriot
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Elmnight

Aldo your true colors are showing … and they are not pretty.

gofastgo
gofastgo
6 years ago
Reply to  True Patriot

And neither is Fields, he’s right, she not bright, only black.

gofastgo
gofastgo
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Elmnight

Blacks and other minorities will continue to vote for skin color alone, which has been the way for decades.

Joe Hardhat
Joe Hardhat
6 years ago

The demographics of senate district 29 work in favor of Rhonda and assume she’ll get 90% of African American vote, 66% of Hispanic vote and 33% of the rest. According to my math, this works out to be about 16.2% + 21.4% + 16.5% = 54.1%. So, I would predict victory for Fields over Ryden in the Democratic Primary.

Joe Hardhat
Joe Hardhat
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Hardhat

I was looking at the electorate numbers as a whole. But among registered Democrats in district 29, about two-thirds of the voters will be African American or Hispanic. So, it should be a lopsided victory for Rhonda Fields.

gofastgo
gofastgo
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe Hardhat

And you have the reason why, ignorant voters voting for ignorant representatives.

gofastgo
gofastgo
6 years ago

There you go, people who can’t do the job at their level now, want to ‘move up’, what a joke.

KaraPEllis
KaraPEllis
6 years ago

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