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Colorado voters make primary choices

Coloradans picked their respective party candidates for the Nov. 2 general elections as voters flooded the polls on Tuesday in record numbers for the primary election.

In Colorado’s most hotly contested primary race, Tea Party favorite Dan Maes narrowly — and, by some estimates, surprisingly — defeated the Republican Party favorite Scott McInnis 50.6 percent to 49.3 percent, giving Maes the nod as candidate for governor.

Maes will move on to face Democratic candidate and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and third-party candidate Tom Tancredo for the November election.

Tancredo announced his intent to run for governor late last month, citing dissatisfaction with both Maes and McInnis. Earlier in the month, the McInnis campaign was plagued by allegations of plagiarism, while the Maes campaign was hit with charges of campaign finance violations (Maes paid a fine in June as a result of those charges).

Libertarians, participating in their first-ever primary, chose Jaimes Brown as their gubernatorial candidate over Dan “Kilo” Sallis, in a 62.3- 37.6 percent landslide victory.

In other state races, Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet took a clear 54.2 percent to 45.7 percent victory from challenger Andrew Romanoff in a race that heated up in the final weeks of the primary.

Bennet, the former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, recently faced charges that an investment deal involving state pension funds that he had leveraged ended up costing the district $25 million. However, Bennet appeared to have survived those charges and pulled out a clear victory on Tuesday night despite late polls showing an extremely close race.

Endorsed by the Tea Party, Ken Buck narrowly defeated GOP establishment candidate Jane Norton, 51.5 - 48.4 percent. In the weeks preceding the primary, Buck was successful in painting himself as a Washington outsider, while assailing Norton’s establishment status, closing the gap, then moving ahead in last-minute polling.

Buck will face Bennet and Lib. candidate Maclyn Stringer, who won his primary race against John Finger 52.4 - 47.5 percent.

This November, incumbent John Salazar’s seat for House District 3 will be challenged by Republican Scott Tipton, who easily defeated Tea Party choice Bob McConnell 55.7 - 44.2 percent on Tuesday night. This will be the second time Tipton has challenged Salazar. In 2006, Salazar defeated Tipton in a 25-point landslide.

In the primary race for State Senate, District 6, Republican Ellen Roberts posted a clear victory over Tea Party-favorite Dean Boehler with a 53.4 - 46.5 percent margin. Roberts will face incumbent Dem. Bruce Whitehead in the general election.

In the Rep. primary race for State Treasurer, Walker Stapleton squeaked out a narrow, 50.8 - 49.1 percent, victory over challenger J.J. Ament. Stapleton will go on to face incumbent Dem. Cary Kennedy in November.

For State House District 59 (currently occupied by Ellen Roberts), no primary contested races were run. The district (which includes Archuleta County) pits Dem. Brian O’Donnell against Republican J. Paul Brown.

The November election should be one of the more interesting races in recent memory, especially with a three-way race for governor. The SUN will keep its readers up to date with candidate profiles and explanations of ballot initiatives in the run-up to the election.

jim@pagosasun.com