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Millions Projected To Be Spent In Colorado State Races

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - Out of state special interests are spending millions of dollars on state legislative races this year.

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According to analysis by our election partner The Colorado Sun, super PACS, nonprofits and -- to a lesser extent -- candidates are on track to spend more than $7.5 million on five state Senate races. That will determine who controls the Senate.

The analysis found Republicans have the money edge. The Colorado Sun projects they will spend $4.2 million compared to Democrats' $3.3 million.

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Dick Wadhams (credit: CBS)

"The problem for campaigns is that no candidate has control over his or her campaigning anymore. They raise modest sums compared to these vast amounts of money outside. So, they lose control of their own message," said CBS4 Republican analyst Dick Wadhams.

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He says it's no surprise outside groups are spending heavily on state races. Congress enacted less than 100 laws last year. The Colorado Legislature enacted more than 400.

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From fixing our roads to funding our schools to health care and environmental policies, state legislatures impact our lives in all kinds of ways.

Former presidential contender Martin O'Malley among the national figures in Colorado stumping for Democrats.

"The State Senate races, State House races, governors races all across America are critically important," he said.

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Mike Dino (credit: CBS)

CBS4 Democratic analyst Mike Dino says the avalanche of mailers and ads are indicative of how important purple Colorado is nationally.

"People are playing off the national fervor out there. This is the first referendum on the president and everybody's trying to leverage that either for them or against them," Dino said.

If Democrats take the Senate, they will control both chambers of the legislature and both Wadhams and Dino say that will almost certainly lead to overreach.

The last time it was single-party rule in the state legislature was in 2013, the year of sweeping gun control.

Wadhams says the stakes are high.

"The Colorado State Senate is as important as the governor's race in terms of the impact it will have on public policy in Colorado after this election."

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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