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DLCC Essential Races 2016: Round 1

DLCC Essential Races 2016: Round 1

Colorado House District 30: Dafna Michaelson Jenet

Dafna Michaelson Jenet is a first-time candidate with a bright future in Colorado politics. As the mother of an active duty Marine, Jenet understands the needs and backgrounds of the many military families that call the district home. Jenet’s experience in promoting social change is a stark contrast to her ultra-conservative opponent, who achieved notoriety last year for implying that the tragic shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs was somehow Planned Parenthood's fault.    


Colorado Senate District 15: Rachel Zenzinger

Rachel Zenzinger was appointed to this seat in the winter of 2013, after Democratic state Sen. Evie Hudak resigned. However, in the 2014 election to serve the remainder of Hudak’s term, GOP challenger Laura Woods narrowly defeated Zenzinger by only 663 votes. Woods has developed an extreme and ultra-conservative record, voting in lock step with a group of far right-wing lawmakers. In 2016, SD-19 will see a rematch between Woods and Zenzinger as the candidates fight for a full term.    




Iowa House District 55: Pat Ritter

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Pat Ritter is running in this open seat that Democrats lost by just 27 votes in 2014. After graduating from high school, Ritter joined the Marines, where he served for more than four years, obtaining the rank of Sergeant before being honorably discharged from military service in 2004 to attend college. Ritter’s career of service to his country and community is a stark contrast to that of Republican opponent Michael Bergan, who served as a rubber stamp for Republican leadership.  


Iowa Senate District 28: Jan Heikes

While Jan Heikes in a first-time candidate, she has a long history of dedicating herself to the betterment of her community. As a Mental Health & Disabilities Central Point of Coordination (CPC) administrator, Heikes worked to advocate for individuals with serious mental illness and disabilities for over 20 years. Democrats lost this targeted district by just 37 votes four years ago. Heikes will bring her experience improving lives and her knowledge of local planning and policy to the Iowa Senate.    



Kentucky House District 08: Representative Jeff Taylor

This past March, Rep. Taylor won the special election for HD-08, garnering almost 60% of the vote over his Republican opponent. During the special election, President Obama endorsed Rep. Taylor, stressing the importance of keeping HD-08 in Democratic hands for issues such as health care and education. Rep. Taylor continues to be an active member of his community, serving on the Labor Relations Committee, the Leadership Kentucky Board of Directors, and as the Chairman of the Christian County Democratic Executive Committee. This November, Rep. Taylor will again face Walker Thomas and his extreme conservative agenda.  


Kentucky House District 38: McKenzie Cantrell

McKenzie Cantrell is a first-time candidate who has devoted her career as a public rights attorney to standing up for workers across the Commonwealth. Cantrell is a proud graduate of “Emerge Kentucky,” which empowers and prepares Kentucky women to run for and hold political office. Her opponent, incumbent Denny Butler, deserted his constituents by switching his party affiliation to Republican shortly after Gov. Bevin was elected. In a district that supported President Obama both in 2008 and 2012, Cantrell is the candidate who will best represent both the people and the values of HD-38.



Michigan House District 71: Theresa Abed

Theresa Abed has been an advocate her entire life, serving as a school social worker in Eaton County Public Schools, as County Commissioner, and later as state Representative of HD-71 from 2013 to 2015. As a school social worker, Abed developed a successful anti-bullying campaign, and as County Commissioner, she created the first Citizen’s University, where residents could learn more about county government. Abed lost her 2014 reelection campaign by just 148 votes in one of the closest races in the state. This November, HD-71 will see a rematch between Abed and GOP incumbent Rep. Tom Barrett as Democrats look to recapture this targeted seat.    


Michigan House District 91: Collene Lamonte

Collene Lamonte served as state Representative for HD-91 from 2013 to 2015 after losing reelection by a mere 53 votes. As a state Representative, Lamonte held over 80 constituent “coffee hours” and town hall forums to better understand concerns in her district and listen to new ideas from her constituents. During her tenure in the state House, Lamonte sponsored and cosponsored legislation to reverse new taxes on seniors and families enacted by her opponent, Holly Hughes, and other Republicans in 2011, and she successfully worked to repeal GOP retirement taxes on pensions and 401(k)s. This November, Lamonte will face Republican Holly Hughes for a third time in the battle for this important swing district.    


Michigan House District 99: Bryan Mielke

Bryan Mielke is one of the Democratic Party's most promising grassroots candidates. He is a small business owner and an active member of his community, serving on multiple township organizations and as an elected member of the Union Township Board. He showed himself to be a dynamic candidate in 2014, when he almost defeated current House Speaker Kevin Cotter, falling short by just 671 votes. Mielke believes in local government and its need to be transparent and reflect the communities it represents. He is especially passionate about education and is dedicated to improving Michigan schools and making K-12 funding a priority when he joins the Legislature.    


Nevada Senate District 15: Devon Reese

Devon Reese grew up in the heart of SD-15, attending Washoe County public schools and returning to the area after attending college and law school. As an attorney, Reese has fought on behalf of firefighters, police officers, educators, and other hardworking Nevadans. As an openly gay man, a father, and the husband of a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Reese is dedicated to fighting for the rights and wellbeing of all Nevadans, regardless of background. With Republicans holding a one-seat-advantage in the NV Senate, SD-15 will be a crucial race for Democrats as they aim to win a majority in the chamber. Reese will face Trump supporter and former Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, as well as Libertarian candidate David Colborne.    


New Hampshire Senate District 12: Peggy Gilmour

Peggy Gilmour is a nurse by trade and has served two terms representing SD-12 in the New Hampshire Senate, where she has earned a reputation as an independent and solutions-oriented problem solver. She is also a strong business advocate, earning the BIA’s Champion of Business designation. She has served on the Health, Education, and Human Services Committee, as Vice-Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and headed several study committees. Gilmour earned the endorsement of EMILY’s List and has been included in the group’s “Focus 2020” efforts. In November, she will again face tea-party conservative Kevin Avard in one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the state.    


New Hampshire Senate District 23: Alexis Simpson

Current New Hampshire state Representative and former Pastor Alexis Simpson will aim to reclaim Gov. Hassan's former state Senate seat for Democrats this November. Endorsed by EMILY's List, Rep. Simpson will use her experience as a former Secretary of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire and as a member of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee to promote commonsense policies for a healthy economy, healthy families, and a healthy environment. This November, she will face Republican state Rep. William Gannon for this open seat in one of the most closely-watched races in the state.    


New Mexico House District 04: GloJean Todacheene

Before retiring, GloJean Todacheene worked for 26 years in the Central Consolidated School District #22 as a home economics educator, an elementary school principal, and a curriculum support administrator. She is a former two-term San Juan County Commissioner and was the 2015 recipient of the Milken New Mexico Distinguished Service Award for her work as a Navajo National councilor and education advocate. As a state Representative, Todacheene will use her experience as a lifelong educator to fight for the rights of all New Mexicans to receive a high-quality education, regardless of zip code. Todacheene will work to rebuild the public’s trust in state government after numerous recent Republican ethics violations eroded it severely. In November, the race for HD-04 is key to Democrats gaining control of the state’s lower chamber.  


New Mexico House District 15: Ane Romero

Ane Romero is a nationally-recognized policy writer and award winning mental health advocate, speaker, and trainer who was born and raised in New Mexico. While still in college, Romero wrote Senate Joint Memorial 61, which became one of the earliest pieces of mental health legislation to pass the New Mexico legislature. In November, the race for HD-15 will be crucial for Democrats to gain a majority in the state House. Romero faces Republican incumbent Sarah Maestas Barnes, who has come under scrutiny for ethics violations after failing to disclose a lucrative government contract.    


New Mexico House District 30: Natalie Figueroa

Figueroa is a lifelong educator and Democrat with a strong personal commitment to service. A longtime volunteer for numerous community organizations and a Spanish language teacher for the last 25 years, she is pursuing public office to continue working for the public good. As Representative, Figueroa will work to increase educational opportunities for all students, protect the environment, and improve government transparency and accountability. HD-30 will be a crucial race for Democrats this November as they aim to flip control of the state House. Figueroa will face Republican incumbent and Majority Leader Nathaniel Gentry, who has been scrutinized for awarding more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded contracts to his top staffer and allegedly accepting politically-motivated campaign contributions.