The Associated Press described last night’s caucus results as a measure of anti-establishment sentiment but that’s a stretch. The results suggest voters’ feelings were mixed, that there are no clear frontrunners, and that Coloradans should be prepared for heated campaigns for months to come.
In the Democratic race for U.S. Senate, longtime popular state politician and former Speaker of the Colorado House Andrew Romanoff defeated appointed U.S. Senator Michael Bennet but it was no landslide. Bennet has literally been in office for a year and has never run a political campaign.Yet Romanoff won with what looks like only roughly 50 percent to 41 percent of the vote, although he won solidly in the Democratic-stronghold Denver metro precincts.
“I want to thank the thousands of Coloradans who came out tonight to show their support for the work we are all doing together to change Washington and who will join me in winning the primary in August and the general election in the fall” Bennet said in a release. “As someone who isn’t a political insider, tonight’s support is especially meaningful.”
On the right, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Weld County D.A. Ken Buck topped former Lt. Governor Jane Norton in a very close race, winning with what looks like not even 38 percent to 37 percent of the vote. But Buck won in a statewide contest despite the advantages Norton enjoys in name recognition, local and national party endorsements and fundraising support.
On the heels of an expensive TV ad campaign launched against Norton by conservative 527 groups and increasing media critiques of her spotty record as a fiscal conservative during her tenure with Gov. Bill Owens’s administration, the loss last night is another blow. The Buck campaign, which struggled mightily to raise money last quarter, is now on the rise. The Norton campaign is on its heels.
“We surprised people,” Buck said as the tallying began winding down. “Our opponent had every advantage in this race, and we have neutralized those advantages. Now, it’s game on.”
The GOP gubernatorial primary caucus results were also a wash. Six-term Congressman Scott McInnis won handily in his bid to win the nomination, but he didn’t knock out little-known Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, who Tea Party groups have tended to favor. McInnis won 60 percent of the vote. McInnis seems the inevitable nominee but that contest will continue.
In the 4th Congressional District GOP contest to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, however, the night produced a clear winner. Yuma State Rep. Cory Gardner came out solidly ahead in the four-way race, taking home major portions of the votes in the population centers Larimer and Weld County. That’s bad news for local candidates Diggs Brown, Tom Lucero and Dean Madere.
Gardner won 44 percent of the Larimer County vote and he won 63 percent of the vote in Weld County. Former Fort Collins councilman and National Guardsman Diggs Brown came in second in both counties.