• Colorado Republican voters in the primary election ending Tuesday are choosing whether one of a pair of political-novice businessmen or one of a trio of former and current officeholders, each with business backgrounds, will take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in one of the most closely watched contests in the country this fall.

    And voters from both parties in the by-mail election also are determining their nominees in several Colorado House and Senate races that pit pro-business candidates against incumbents or challengers.

    As of Tuesday morning, just under 28 percent of Republicans who received mail-in ballots had already voted, and more than 23 percent of Democrats had, said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

    It’s too late now to mail in a ballot; they must be dropped off no later than 7 p.m. at a ballot drop box or Voter Service and Polling Center. Click here for county-by-county information on where to return your ballot.

    The only contested statewide race in the primary is the five-way GOP U.S. Senate contest between businessman Robert Blaha, former Aurora City CouncilmanRyan Frazier, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former Colorado State University athletic director Jack Graham and former state Rep. Jon Keyser. Incumbent Hancock is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

    With public polling in the race nearly non-existent and the candidates taking a backseat to the presidential primaries for most of the contest, the primary could break for any of the five candidates.

    Blaha and Graham have extolled their business backgrounds — Blaha is a longtime entrepreneur and Graham the former owner of a reinsurance company — and touted that they’ve never held elected office.

    Meanwhile, attorneys Glenn and Keyser and consulting company owner Frazier have spoken about their mix of public service and private-sector experience.

    There are not tremendous gaps between the candidates on most issues. Graham, for example, is the only Republican who talks about the validity of climate change when discussing his energy policies, but he, like the other four, all seek to rein in the regulatory power of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to help Colorado’s faltering oil and gas economy by curbing government interference and assuring fracking is not banned.

    The winner will take on eight-year incumbent Bennet, who is flush with campaign cash but who is widely considered the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent seeking re-election in a year when Senate Republicans will have to defend a greater amount of swing seats.

    On the legislative side, most of the high-profile primaries involve seats in which whoever wins the primary is considered a sure thing in the November election.

    In El Paso County, for example, former state Rep. Bob Gardner and current state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt are battling for the Republican nomination to replace term-limited Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. Gardner, who served from 2007 to 2014, was known as a leader in trying to curb plaintiff’s rights and bring about judicial reform, while Klingenschmitt is more know for his conservative stances on social issues.

    In Denver, Rep. Angela Williams — a Denver Democrat who chairs the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee and has been one of the strongest pro-business Democrats in that chamber — is seeking the open Senate District 33 seat against Jon Biggerstaff, a first-time candidate who has campaigned against the influence of money in politics.

    Check back tonight for results on these and other key races.


    Posted by Dana West @ 10:55 am for Adams County Politics, Candidates, Colorado politics, Denver area politics, Elections, National politics |

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