• Winner in general election could determine which party controls Senate next year

    Darryl Glenn & daughters
    El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn hugs his daughters, Kristy and Ashley, in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Tuesday.

    A conservative county commissioner won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Colorado on Tuesday, setting up a critical swing-state race with Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.
    Darryl Glenn led the five-way, crowded contest with 37.5% of the votes, according to the Associated Press, with 84% of the precincts reporting.

    Once considered a long shot, Mr. Glenn impressed Colorado Republicans—particularly conservatives—with his speech at the state GOP convention earlier this year. And in recent days, he seemed to gain momentum after picking up the endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and other national conservative figures.

    Republicans had initially been hopeful that the race would produce a heavyweight challenger to Mr. Bennet in a state that is virtually evenly carved up between Democrats, Republicans and voters who don’t identify with either party.

    But after more popular GOP politicians including U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, and George Brauchler, the prosecutor in the Aurora theater shooting trial, declined to jump in, those hopes dimmed as lesser known figures joined the fray instead.

    The race will be one of several closely watched contests that will determine which party controls the Senate next January. Democrats must win a net of five seats, or four if they win the White House and secure the vice president’s tiebreaking vote, to regain control of the chamber.

    Mr. Glenn, who holds office in El Paso County, which includes Colorado Springs, benefited from a divided field, racking up endorsements from Sarah Palin and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, in addition to Sen. Cruz.

    Mr. Glenn’s opponents in the race were Jack Graham, an ex- NFL quarterback and former Colorado State University athletic director; Robert Blaha, a businessman; Jon Keyser, a former state representative; and Ryan Frazier, a former Aurora city councilman.

    None of the five men had much statewide name recognition, nor was a single candidate able to gain traction during the campaign. For months, political analysts predicted the election would be a tossup.

    The primary was also marred by controversy. To start, Mr. Glenn stunned the party with a powerful speech at the state convention and was the only candidate to win enough delegates to get on the ballot.

    That forced the other four candidates to qualify with signatures. But even then, Mr. Graham was the only candidate who gathered enough valid signatures, prompting the other three men to sue in Colorado state court, successfully winning claims that their signatures were indeed valid.

    Mr. Keyser, once touted by some Colorado Republicans as a rising star and perhaps their best hope to unseat Mr. Bennet, struggled in particular. In June, the Denver District Attorney filed forgery charges against a signature gatherer working for a petition company his campaign hired, alleging that she turned in multiple fake names and signatures.

    “The biggest part of this campaign was trying to stay on the ballot,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the Cook Political Report. “Nobody was able to get any decent momentum.”

    Floyd Ciruli, a longtime independent pollster in Colorado, said the race against Mr. Bennet could well be a close one.

    “To the extent that a huge proportion of this re-election is going to be a reflection of the anti-establishment tone of the presidential race, there are early indications that the race will be competitive in Colorado,” he said.

    Still, Mr. Ciruli said, Mr. Bennet was well-positioned to defend his seat, noting that Mr. Glenn would have to tack to the center and scale up a bare-bones campaign that had so far focused only on a narrow portion of Colorado’s electorate.

    Mr. Bennet was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and elected to a full six-year term in 2010. Before his appointment, he had served as superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

    Write to Dan Frosch at dan.frosch@wsj.com


    Posted by Dana West @ 6:56 am for Adams County Politics, Candidates, Colorado politics, Denver area politics, Elections, National politics |

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