Dash for final votes by Bennet
DENVER (AP) – Colorado Democrats sprinted Tuesday to round up last-minute votes for Sen. Michael Bennet, who was fending off tea-party Republican candidate Ken Buck amid a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment and mediocre turnout that could hurt Bennet’s party.
Republicans had their eyes on Colorado as they tried to pick up 10 Senate seats and control of the chamber in what was expected to be a day of big GOP gains. Buck, the Weld County prosecutor from northern Colorado, had predicted the race wouldn’t be close despite polls indicating a close contest.
“They keep asking whether this is going to be a close race. This isn’t going to be a close race,” he told supporters Monday.
Democrats needed to round up every vote they could for Bennet, who was appointed to the seat last year and is seeking his first full term.
Democratic volunteers hung “VOTE” signs on doors in left-leaning Denver neighborhoods Tuesday and even woke up apartment-dwellers to remind them to vote.
One volunteer started soon after polls opened at 7 a.m.
“Already voted, dude,” said a bleary-eyed apartment resident when he got a knock from a Democratic activist who wouldn’t give his name. The volunteer smiled, thanked the man for his vote and dashed down the apartment stairs to another address.
Colorado elections officials reported at midday that more than 1.2 million voters, like the sleepy Democrat, had turned in votes before Tuesday – either by mail or at early voting centers. The total came to about 50 percent of the state’s active voters. Republicans turned in more early ballots than Democrats, according to state officials.
Bennet and Buck had similar Election-Day strategies. Both worked phones with volunteers and stood on street corners waving to motorists. And both stayed in the Front Range, which includes Denver and has some 80 percent of the state’s voters.
Bennet seemed confident, too, if a little more tired in the campaign’s closing hours. He told Democratic activists in suburban Denver that Colorado could buck the national GOP wave.
“We’re not giving in to the idea that we’re not going to get this done in Colorado,” Bennet said.
The Colorado race attracted more out-of-state campaign money than any other Senate contest this year – almost $33 million, according to the Washington-based watchdog group Sunlight Foundation.
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