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Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on Tuesday won the Democratic primary to challenge Republican Senator Cory Gardner in November, according to the Associated Press. The race is one of the most crucial in the campaign by Democrats to recapture the Senate.
Hickenlooper, who made a brief run for the party’s presidential nomination, had a tougher than expected primary contest against Andrew Romanoff, a former state House speaker who ran on a progressive agenda including Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.
Although he served two terms as the state’s governor, Hickenlooper had several stumbles in his Senate campaign. Just weeks before the primary, the state’s ethics commission held him in contempt for failing to show for a remote hearing and fined him $2,750 in cases related to his acceptance of private jet travel and limousine rides while governor.
He also faced criticism from Gardner for saying when seeking the Democratic presidential nomination that he had no interest in serving in the Senate.
But Hickenlooper was bolstered by strong fundraising and money spent by party-affiliated outside political groups. He is favored over Gardner, who is one of only two GOP Senate incumbents running in a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Despite the vigorous primary, Romanoff on Tuesday night pledged his full support for Hickenlooper in the general election.
Gardner has touted legislation and federal largess that he helped direct to Colorado, including provisions in a public lands bill he co-authored that recently passed the Senate. He has mostly aligned himself with President Donald Trump and appeared with the president at a rally in February, but he’s avoided taking direct stands on Trump’s controversies.
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