John Hickenlooper stumbles across finish line to win Democratic primary for U.S. Senate |

John Hickenlooper stumbles across finish line to win Democratic primary for U.S. Senate

The Democratic winner will face U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in November in a major contest with national implications

The Democratic candidates competing in the June party primary for U.S. Senate are Andrew Romanoff, left, and John Hickenlooper, right.
Colorado Sun photo illustration

John Hickenlooper escaped with a victory in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Colorado on Tuesday, defeating rival Andrew Romanoff after national Democrats and a big-money super PAC came to rescue his beleaguered campaign.

The former Colorado governor showed a comfortable advantage in the early returns with 60% of the vote, according to preliminary vote tallies, and the Associated Press projected his victory 23 minutes after polls closed. 

He will face Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in one of the most closely watched races in the nation and a must-win for Democrats to take control of the chamber.

The Democratic race drove record turnout in the typically low-profile primary, the second-ever in Colorado to allow the participation of unaffiliated voters. Many cast ballots earlier than normal, in part to avoid in-person voting or ballot drop off amid the pandemic. 

In Denver and Boulder — two Democratic-heavy counties and crucial harbingers of the vote — the first batch of counted ballots showed Hickenlooper with solid leads in turf where Romanoff needed to do well.

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