Rep. Randy Baumgardner secured a seat in the state Senate, winning the majority of votes in all but two Senate District 8 counties - one of them being Summit - based on early election results Tuesday night.
The Hot Sulphur Springs Republican, who is well-known across the region following two terms representing a similar district in the state House of Representatives, won 51 percent of the vote, with victories in Garfield, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Grand counties, unofficial voter counts indicated at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
"I was honored to represent northwest Colorado the last four years in the House," Baumgardner said. "I will continue to do a good job for the new county of Summit. I will be open to suggestions, to working with the county commissioners and to listening to the constituents of that county when I make my decisions at the state Capitol as a senator."
Summit and Routt backed Democratic challenger Emily Tracy, of Breckenridge.
Tracy said she was prepared for the race to be a difficult win for a Democrat in a largely Republican district.
"We knew going into this race way back, just based on the registration numbers in this district that it would be an uphill battle, regardless of who the Republican candidate was," she said. "I really enjoyed getting to know the people and the communities all over northwest Colorado, and I feel good about the race and how we did."
Baumgardner jumped into the Senate District 8 race earlier this year after he was drawn out of the north-west House district he has served for two terms. He challenged and beat incumbent Sen. Jean White, wife of Colorado Tourism Office director Al White, following an ugly primary race that targeted White for some of her moderate positions on social issues and exposed Baumgardner's link to a convicted sex offender.
Baumgardner was born and raised in Indiana. He relocated to Colorado in the mid-1990s and bought into a cattle ranch. He would later take a job with the Colorado Department of Transportation before landing his seat in the state House of Representatives in 2008. Baumgardner bills himself as an advocate of West Slope water rights and energy. He has repeatedly called for government to lend equal support across energy-production industries from coal and oil to wind and solar.
This race was Tracy's third shot at a Capitol job. She ran unsuccessfully in the GOP-dominated House District 60 in 2002 and 2004.
The Breckenridge Democrat was born in New York, grew up in Missouri and moved to Colorado for college in 1965. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in German/English literature, and after several years as a homemaker moved with her family to Canon City. She would later serve two four-year terms on the Canon City Council before beginning a career in social services.
During the campaign she promised to be a voice for the West Slope and to work across the aisle. But her platform fell short with voters in several counties, where Baumgardner had a strong base of support.
Baumgardner will take office in the state Senate in January and serve a four-year term.