UPDATED: Newell campaign recants victory claims for now, state Senate seat still a tossup

Update: Arapahoe County still has no election results for SD-26 at this time and county officials do not know how many ballots are left to count. 3:52 p.m.

Update: Apparently media members and campaign staffers are having problems with the live election results on Arapahoe County’s Web site. If you look at the individual races the results look like they show that 100 percent of precincts have been counted even though they haven’t yet. 10:57 a.m.

Update: Arapahoe County has now confirmed that they are still counting 14,000 mail-in ballots, with Republican Clapp currently leading by some 30 votes. Results are expected in the afternoon hours according to the county. Despite victory claims by the Newell camp, the race is still very much up in the air. 10:27 a.m.

Update: The Newell camp is now claiming that they have just found out that an unknown number of mail-in ballots are still being counted in Arapahoe County, saying that the race is still very tight. Stay tuned for more details. 10:16 a.m.

Democrat Linda Newell, running for public office for the first time in the historically Republican Senate District 26 in the southern suburbs of Denver, declared victory in the early morning hours today by a margin of 106 votes.

Current Arapahoe County results are projecting the race for Newell, although provisional ballots are still being counted. State law also allows a recount of the results to take place if the margin of winning votes is less than or equal to one-half of one percent.

However, the Newell campaign is confident that she will have a strong lead among the provisional ballots and will win a recount should it occur.

It is unknown if the Republican challenger and former state House member, Lauri Clapp, has conceded at this time. The Clapp campaign has not returned messages seeking comment.

Newell’s campaign was characterized by a strong ground offensive as The Colorado Independent reported on Monday:

Could countless hours of field work — canvassing door-to-door and making phone calls — be the key to winning a contested Senate seat that had been characterized by Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien as a “slam dunk” for Republicans?

Newell thinks so. The single mother and her volunteers say they knocked on more than 37,000 doors since July as part of an elaborate field strategy to defeat Clapp.

But if Newell does win, it may end up being one of the most important, and under-reported, stories of Election Day in Colorado, where field work and community organizing — tactics that are often sidestepped by campaigns in favor of advertising spots and consulting fees — turned what was once an un-winnable seat over to a Democrat.

“Don’t let it ever be said that one person’s vote doesn’t matter,” Newell said on Wednesday.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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