Democrats eye a reliably Republican seat that could flip the whole Senate.
Democratic women are at the forefront of an army of Colorado candidates trying to win back control of the state’s Senate this year.
They include a rancher, a public school advocate, as well as foster mom and #MeToo survivor Rebecca Cranston.
If these women can pull off a series of wins in November, it’s possible Democrats will control the state’s House, Senate, and governorship for the first time since 2010, and be able to pass through a progressive agenda that Senate Republicans have been blocking.
Cranston, a human trafficking survivor, may have the most unusual background of any candidate running this year.
She experienced a difficult home life when she as a teenager and says she sometimes slept in a laundry mat.
When she went to New York City as a teenager with an adult man she thought was a friend and mentor, she realized he was going to try to profit off her.
“I am a human trafficking survivor. Starting when I was 14, I was forced into unspeakable acts still relegated to a part of my psyche that is partly inaccessible, for the benefit of someone who saw commercial and psychological opportunity in my vulnerability,” Cranston wrote on Facebook.
“This is why I felt compelled to share my story within the wake of the ‘Me Too’ movement. I am here to tell women everywhere that you’re not responsible for your victimization, that victims will not be silenced and marginalized, and that I stand with you in opposition to a culture that would attempt to silence you with the weapon of shame.”
Years after her teenage trauma, she earned an MBA from Georgetown University, and later served as executive director of the Northern Colorado AIDS Project.
She recently became a foster parent and has a teenage daughter, an experience that prompted her to enter the political arena. “It became really difficult to explain to my foster daughter what was going on in our country,” she explained.
This is her first run for public office. It comes after the Colorado legislature struggled through a #MeToo scandal last year, with several members being accused of sexual misconduct.
Cranston is stressing health care, education, and a working wage during her campaign.
The candidate got a scare last month when she was shot at while sitting in her truck at home. The vehicle was hit by a bullet. Cranston was not injured.
District 15, which covers Larimer County outside of Fort Collins, has been reliably Republican in recent years. The GOP won there by 20 points in 2010 and the incumbent ran unopposed in 2014.
But with a possible Trump backlash brewing, Democrats are not only fielding a District 15 candidate this cycle, but also eying an upset bid.
A total of 17 out of the 35 seats in the Colorado Senate are contested in this election cycle. Republicans currently hold just a one-seat margin in the General Assembly’s upper chamber.
Colorado Democrats have reason to be optimistic this year. During the primary season, 55,000 more Democrats voted than Republicans. And among the unaffiliated voters who were able to participate, 60,000 more opted to vote in the Democratic primary. If Democrats can sustain that momentum through Election Day, it could change Colorado.