Hickenlooper takes governor’s office; Perlmutter claims CD7

9News tonight is calling the governor’s race for Democrat John Hickenlooper by a 53 to 36 percent margin over American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo. Republican Dan Maes had tallied just 8 percent of the vote.

“I am humbled and honored by the decision Colorado’s voters have made, and I accept the challenge you have entrusted to me to lead our state as Governor,” Hickenlooper said in a release. “This is not the end of our journey. This is the beginning. And it starts with bringing people together.”

The television station also called the 7th Congressional District race for incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter 52 percent to 44 percent over Republican challenger Ryan Frazier.

9News at about 8:30 p.m. also had, as expected, incumbent Democrats Diana DeGette and Jared Polis (CD1 and CD2) holding onto their seats, but blue dog Democrat Betsy Markey lost her CD4 seat to Republican state Rep. Cory Gardner 52 to 43 percent.

Nevertheless, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak was upbeat about the Dem wins in a national wave of GOP victory.

“Going into this election, the number one target of the Republicans was the governor and 9News has called the race for John Hickenlooper,” Waak said, also cheering wins by DeGette, Polis and Perlmutter. “Let’s celebrate tonight; these are great Democratic victories for the state of Colorado.”

Also as expected, Republican incumbent Mike Coffman handily defeated Democrat John Flerlage by a 69 to 29 percent margin in CD6, and Republican Doug Lamborn easily defeated Democrat Kevin Bradley in CD5 by a 70 to 25 percent margin.

With Republican Scott Tipton leading John Salazar in the CD3 by a 51 to 45 percent margin, that means Colorado’s congressional district could shift to a majority of Republicans, mirroring national results. NBC News a little before 9 p.m. was predicting Republicans would take back control of the U.S. House.

Here’s Hickenlooper’s full release:

Colorado voters on Tuesday elected John Hickenlooper, a brewpub pioneer turned Mayor of Denver, as the 42nd Governor of Colorado.

“I am humbled and honored by the decision Colorado’s voters have made, and I accept the challenge you have entrusted to me to lead our state as Governor,” Hickenlooper said. “This is not the end of our journey. This is the beginning. And it starts with bringing people together.”

Gov.-elect Hickenlooper set himself apart in the 2010 election by maintaining his promise to run a completely positive campaign. His pledge to renounce attack ads brought national attention to Colorado and distinguished Hickenlooper as the kind of leader the state needs to solve problems and turn its economy around.

“The problems we face are too big for partisan politics,” Hickenlooper said. “We’re facing a budget shortfall that threatens to hurt our schools and reduce opportunities for our kids to go to college. So tonight, the political campaign is over, and the business of putting Colorado back to work begins.”

Hickenlooper will be joined in office by Lt. Gov.-elect Joe Garcia, who is currently the president of Colorado State University-Pueblo. Garcia is a respected educator who has served as the president of Pikes Peak Community College and Co-Chair of the state’s P-20 Education Reform Council.

“I am so fortunate to have a talented problem-solver like Joe Garcia as my lieutenant governor,” Hickenlooper said. “Joe is just the kind of leader we need to build a 21st-century education system for the state of Colorado.”

Hickenlooper and Garcia will be inaugurated on Jan. 11.

“Gov. Bill Ritter leaves a legacy for which we should all be grateful,” Hickenlooper said. “His work to improve outcomes for kids, through access to health care and better education will have a lasting effect on our state. His ability to define Colorado as the center of the New Energy Economy will help create thousands of jobs, not just now but also for generations to come.”

Hickenlooper challenged Coloradans to work together regardless of political party to make Colorado.

“Starting tonight, we set aside our differences and work together to rebuild hope in our state and get our economy back on track,” Hickenlooper said. “That’s what our friends and neighbors want. That’s what Colorado needs.”

Kirsten Cangilla contributed to this report.

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