US Senate candidate John Hickenlooper overcame a difficult month to defeat Andrew Romanoff in a Democratic primary on Tuesday evening, paving the way for a highly publicized and closely watched November confrontation with Senator Cory Gardner.
At 9 p.m., Hickenlooper had 473,507 votes, or 60% of the total. Romanoff had accumulated 318,036 votes, or around 40%.
“Thank you, Colorado,” Hickenlooper told supporters online Tuesday night. “For years I have run brewpubs. I wandered into politics because I thought I could make a difference for people and I never stopped believing it. “
Speaking to the Romanoff fan base, Hickenlooper said, “I need each of you to bring the same passion and energy that you have brought to Andrew’s campaign for the fight to come.” It’ll take us all together to beat Cory Gardner. “
Hickenlooper had been the favorite since entering the race in August after an unsuccessful presidential race. He dominated the fundraising contest, got the approvals of the best Democrats in the country, and consistently conducted polls during his main 10-month campaign.
Tuesday’s victory is a victory for the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee and the Democratic establishment, which convinced a reluctant Hickenlooper to run for the Senate seat, believing it to be a safe bet to beat Gardner.
But Hickenlooper enters the four-month-old general election campaign battered by a brutal June, which began by defying a summons. He was later tried for contempt by the Independent Ethics Commission, found to be in violation of ethics laws, and faced a constant stream of headlines about racial blunders dating back several years.
Romanoff, former president of Colorado House and president of Mental Health Colorado, was a favorite of progressives and local activists for his support of the Green New Deal climate plan and Medicare for All.
“Please don’t take the loss tonight as a setback,” Romanoff told his supporters in a concession speech. “It depends on me and I accept responsibility for the result. I wish we could have done more. I don’t know what it would have been. “
Hickenlooper begins the next phase of the Senate race with an advantage over Gardner, a first-year senator from Yuma, due to the recent democratic tilt of the state and the unpopularity of President Donald Trump here. Trump reiterated his support for Gardner on Monday with whom he rallied in Colorado Springs earlier this year.
“Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado is a GREAT senator who always fights for the people of his state. It protects your (2nd amendment), loves our veterinarians and our military and cares deeply about our beautiful public lands, “tweeted Trump.
Voter turnout in the Democratic primary race Tuesday broke a state record for non-presidential primaries. Theories explaining why include the coronavirus pandemic, the intense political atmosphere and the recent increase in voter registration.
About 20 Democrats ran for office in the 2020 race, but many stepped down after Hickenlooper entered in August. Eight stayed until the spring, when only the moderate Hickenlooper and the progressive Romanoff made their way to the polls. An eleventh hour court challenge to add other candidates who accused the coronavirus pandemic of signature collection difficulties was dismissed.
The head-to-head fight between Hickenlooper and Romanoff began slowly, with Hickenlooper the presumptive leader, then tightened throughout June as Hickenlooper stumbled over ethical issues and racial blunders. Yet the rare polls in the race have shown that Hickenlooper leads by large margins until Election Day.
It was also during the last month that the race proved to be expensive. Television commercials worth more than $ 10 million saturated the airwaves, most of them attacking or defending Hickenlooper, and most of them funded by partisan groups outside of Colorado. Hickenlooper kept his announcements positive, and his allies criticized Romanoff for posting an attack announcement mid-month.
“I have never lost an election in this state,” said Hickenlooper Tuesday evening, ahead of the November 3 competition, “and I have no plans to lose this one.”
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