Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper won the Democratic nomination Tuesday defeating a further left opponent to face Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in November.
Hickenlooper defeated former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, leading him, 59 percent to 41 percent, when The Associated Press called the race within just a half-hour of polls closing.
Hickenlooper’s relatively easy win over Romanoff was the second victory by a centrist Democrat in a Senate primary Tuesday, after a late vote count from last week’s Kentucky Senate primary named Amy McGrath a winner of the Democratic nomination over State Rep. Charles Booker.
Senate Democrats aiming to gain three seats in November and win control of the Senate if they win the White House recruited Hickenlooper to take on Gardner when his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination failed last summer. His opponent’s Senate seat is widely seen as the most vulnerable for Republicans in the Senate.
Romanoff who is a former moderate, campaigned as a populist and backed both a Green New Deal and single-payer health care. The former House Speaker lagged significantly, however, to moderate favorite Hickenlooper’s immense fundraising support and goodwill among voters after two terms as governor.
“I’ve never lost an election in this state and I don’t intend to lose this one,” Hickenlooper said ahead of his win on Tuesday night.
The Democratic nominee is expected to focus his attack on Gardner in campaigns leading up to November on his alignment with Trump, AP reported.
No Republican has won a statewide election in Colorado since 2014, when Gardner won by less than two percentage points in what was then considered a strong year for Republicans. Hickenlooper was reelected as governor that year by a wider margin.