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United States House of Representatives elections in Colorado, 2008

The 2008 congressional elections in Colorado were held on November 4, 2008 to determine who will represent the state of Colorado in the United States House of Representatives, coinciding with the presidential and senatorial elections. Representatives are elected for two-year terms; those elected will serve in the 111th Congress from January 6, 2009 until January 3, 2011.

Colorado has seven seats in the House, apportioned according to the 2000 United States Census. Its 2007-2008 congressional delegation consisted of four Democrats and three Republicans. It is now five Democrats and two Republicans. District 4 changed party (from Republican to Democratic), which was the only district CQ Politics had forecasted to be at some risk for the incumbent party.

The Primary election was held August 12, 2008.[1]


  • Overview 1
  • Match-up summary 2
  • District breakdown 3
    • District 1 3.1
    • District 2 3.2
    • District 3 3.3
    • District 4 3.4
    • District 5 3.5
    • District 6 3.6
    • District 7 3.7
  • References 4
  • External links 5


United States House of Representatives elections in Colorado, 2008[2]
Party Votes Percentage Seats +/–
Democratic 1,259,768 55.16% 5 +1
Republican 990,870 43.38% 2 –1
Libertarian 12,136 0.61% 0 0
Green 10,031 0.50% 0 0
American Constitution 8,894 0.44% 0 0
Unity 2,176 0.11% 0 0
Independent 56 0.00% 0 0
Valid votes 2,283,931 82.60%
Invalid or blank votes 138,305 17.40%
Totals 2,422,236 100.00% 7
Voter turnout 91.67%

Match-up summary

District Incumbent 2008 Status Democratic Republican Other Party
1 Diana DeGette Re-election Diana DeGette George Lilly
2 Mark Udall Open Jared Polis Scott Starin
3 John Salazar Re-election John Salazar Wayne Wolf
4 Marilyn Musgrave Re-election Betsy Markey Marilyn Musgrave
5 Doug Lamborn Re-election Hal Bidlack Doug Lamborn
6 Tom Tancredo Open Hank Eng Mike Coffman
7 Ed Perlmutter Re-election Ed Perlmutter John W. Lerew

District breakdown

District 1

Democratic incumbent Charles Crain in his primary. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Safe Democrat'.

Colorado's 1st congressional district election, 2008[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Diana DeGette (incumbent) 203,756 71.94%
Republican George Lilly 67,346 23.78%
Libertarian Martin Buchanan 12,136 4.28%
Independent Gary Swing (write-in) 11 0.00%
Valid votes 283,249 92.84%
Invalid or blank votes 21,844 7.16%
Totals 305,093 100.00%
Voter turnout 88.74%
Democratic hold

District 2

Democratic nominee Jared Polis (campaign website), a businessman, won against Republican nominee Scott Starin (campaign website), an aerospace engineer. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Safe Democrat'.

This district has been represented by Democrat Mark Udall since 1999. With the retirement of Senator Wayne Allard, Udall ran for the Senate, leaving this an open seat. Polis won the Democratic primary against Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and Colorado Conservation Trust Director Will Shafroth. Starin was unopposed in the Republican primary. Former Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone was earlier considered a possible Republican candidate, as was Boulder Mayor Mark Ruzzin for the Green Party. Democrats hold a strong edge in this district (John Kerry won 59% here), as it is centered around heavily Democratic Boulder.

Colorado's 2nd congressional district election, 2008[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jared Polis 215,602 62.60%
Republican Scott Starin 116,619 33.86%
Green J. A. Calhoun 10,031 2.91%
Unity William Hammons 2,176 0.63%
Valid votes 344,428 93.54%
Invalid or blank votes 23,805 6.46%
Totals 368,233 100.00%
Voter turnout 92.49%
Democratic hold

District 3

Democratic incumbent John Salazar (campaign website) won against Republican nominee Wayne Wolf (campaign website). CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Safe Democrat'.

Colorado's 3rd congressional district election, 2008[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Salazar (incumbent) 203,457 61.61%
Republican Wayne Wolf 126,762 38.39%
Valid votes 330,219 96.42%
Invalid or blank votes 12,248 3.58%
Totals 342,467 100.00%
Voter turnout 89.50%
Democratic hold

District 4

Democratic nominee Betsy Markey (campaign website), businesswoman and regional director for Senator Ken Salazar won against Republican incumbent Marilyn Musgrave (campaign website), who had represented this district since 2003. Both ran unopposed in the party primary elections. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Leans Democratic'. The Rothenberg Political Report rated it 'Toss-Up/Tilt Democratic'. The Cook Political Report ranked it 'Republican Toss Up'.

Musgrave, a conservative known for her staunch opposition to gay marriage, won in 2006 by winning a plurality (46%) of the vote against Fort Collins area, made her vulnerable in 2008.

Democrats suffered a setback earlier when State Senator Brandon Schaffer suddenly dropped out, citing his party's failure to clear the field.[3] Eidsness switched parties again (lifelong Republican to Reform Party last year) and became a Democrat, which could have fueled a potential rematch with Musgrave in 2008. 2006 nominee Angie Paccione briefly launched a campaign as well, but left the race in September 2007. On October 24, 2008, the National Republican Congressional Committee abandoned Marilyn Musgrave's 2008 reelection campaign because the NRCC believes this seat is lost and there is no point on wasting scarce resources on it along with two other races they abandoned with the 4th Congressional district. This decision was based solely on Musgrave's poor poll numbers.

Musgrave launched a negative advertisement, attacking Markey over the business of Syscom Systems, the data-processing equipment company run by Markey and her husband. The Musgrave ad was called "highly misleading" by a Denver television station that investigated the facts.[4] After her defeat, Musgrave would not comment on the election results with the media, nor would she concede the race or contact Markey to congratulate her. She also did not thank her campaign staff for their efforts. She later recorded a Saxby Chambliss, saying that she was defeated by "leftist special interests" who "suppressed the truth with vicious attacks and lies."

  • Race ranking and details from CQ Politics
  • Campaign contributions from
  • Musgrave (R-i) vs Markey (D) graph of collected poll results from
Colorado's 4th congressional district election, 2008[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Betsy Markey 187,348 56.20%
Republican Marilyn Musgrave (incumbent) 146,030 43.80%
Valid votes 333,378 95.27%
Invalid or blank votes 16,565 4.73%
Totals 349,943 100.00%
Voter turnout 91.30%
Democratic gain from Republican

District 5

Freshman Republican incumbent Doug Lamborn (campaign website) won against Democratic nominee Hal Bidlack (campaign website), a Clinton administration National Security Council official, and Independent Rich Hand (campaign website), running as a write-in candidate. The district is based in heavily Republican Colorado Springs. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Safe Republican'.

Lamborn got bad press when two constituents accused him of making a threatening phone call in response to a critical letter they wrote.[5] He won against Jeff Crank (campaign website) and Bentley Rayburn (campaign website), more moderate Republicans who had also run in 2006, in the Republican primary. In 2006, Lamborn had narrowly won a nasty multi-candidate primary with 27% of the vote, despite previous representative Joel Hefley's endorsement of Crank, citing Lamborn's "sleazy" campaign. Crank and Rayburn thus came to a gentleman's agreement - they would jointly conduct a poll of the primary, and whoever of the two of them was in third place would drop out and endorse the other, so as to have a better chance of defeating Lamborn. Rayburn came third in the poll, but he refused to drop out and Lamborn won the primary with 44% of the vote.[6]

Amid worries of vulnerability, Lamborn then won the general election by a 59%-41% margin, becoming the highest vote getter for a GOP Congressional candidate in the state in the 2006 cycle.

Colorado's 5th congressional district election, 2008[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Doug Lamborn (incumbent) 183,179 60.03%
Democratic Hal Bidlack 113,027 37.04%
Constitution Brian Scott 8,894 2.91%
Independent Richard Hand (write-in) 45 0.01%
Valid votes 305,145 93.74%
Invalid or blank votes 20,371 6.26%
Totals 325,516 100.00%
Voter turnout 90.45%
Republican hold

District 6

Republican nominee Mike Coffman (campaign website) won against Democratic nominee Hank Eng (campaign website). CQ Politics, The Cook Political Report and The Rothenberg Political Report all forecasted the race as 'Safe Republican', despite some minor controversies surrounding Mike Coffman and Colorado Ethics Watch.[7]

Eng ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary. Coffman defeated a crowded field of candidates including Ted Harvey, Steve Ward, and Will Armstrong (who was endorsed by the State GOP). Republican incumbent Tom Tancredo, who held the seat since 1999, decided to retire leaving it an open seat. His seat is considered to be the most Republican-dominated district of the Denver-area seats and is also one of the wealthiest in the nation. Tancredo was the second highest vote getter for a Republican congressional candidate statewide (59%-40%) in 2006, just behind Doug Lamborn in the 5th district. The district includes Columbine High School, which was devastated in a tragic 1999 school massacre. Democratic efforts to target him on his outspoken views on gun rights in the 2000 election came up short, and he prevailed 53% to 44%.

  • Cherry Creek News: Where's Hank from Cherry Creek News
  • Race ranking and details from CQ Politics
  • Campaign contributions from
Colorado's 6th congressional district election, 2008[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Coffman 250,877 60.66%
Democratic Hank Eng 162,641 39.33%
Valid votes 413,518 93.97%
Invalid or blank votes 26,527 6.03%
Totals 440,045 100.00%
Voter turnout 95.70%
Republican hold

District 7

Democratic incumbent Ed Perlmutter (campaign website), who has represented this district since 2007, won against Republican nominee John W. Lerew. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Safe Democrat'.

In 2006, Perlmutter won 55% of the vote in this suburban Denver district that narrowly went to John Kerry with 52% in 2004. The district's voter registration is split, with independents constituting a slim plurality of 35% compared to Democrats (34%) and Republicans (31%).

Colorado's 7th congressional district election, 2008[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ed Perlmutter (incumbent) 173,937 63.48%
Republican John Lerew 100,057 36.51%
Valid votes 273,994 94.18%
Invalid or blank votes 16,945 5.82%
Totals 290,939 100.00%
Voter turnout 92.47%
Democratic hold


  1. ^ Candidate List for the August 12, 2008 Primary Election Colorado Secretary of State
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Official Publication of the Abstract of Votes Cast for the 2008 Primary and 2008 General" (PDF).  
  3. ^ [1] The Coloradoan
  4. ^ "Musgrave Attack Ad Hits Markey On Biz Dealings", September 19, 2008, KCNC-TV
  5. ^ Colo Springs couple says got threatening call from congressman KJCT 8 News, September 2, 2007
  6. ^
  7. ^ Ethics Watch Requests Criminal Investigation of Coffman Colorado Ethics Watch, June 15, 2007

External links

  • Elections Center from the Colorado Secretary of State
  • U.S. Congress candidates for Colorado at Project Vote Smart
  • Colorado U.S. House Races from 2008 Race Tracker
  • Campaign contributions for Colorado congressional races from
Preceded by
2006 elections
United States House elections in Colorado
Succeeded by
2010 elections
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