Colorado primary election results: Watch and listen with us as we get reactions from across the metro area

Walker Stapleton and Jared Polis will be their parties’ nominees for governor — but there’s still suspense in other races.
14 min. read
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The longtime frontrunners won the top prizes — Republican Walker Stapleton and Democrat Jared Polis will be their parties' nominees for governor. Establishment-backed Democrats in races for U.S. Congress trounced a trio of progressive upstarts — Rep. Diana DeGette is poised for an easy general election to retain her position, Joe Neguse will almost surely take Polis' place representing Colorado's 2nd Congressional District and Jason Crow will win the chance to take on Republican Rep. Mike Coffman.

But the Democratic primary for attorney general remains close Wednesday morning. Some of the local races we'd been watching late Tuesday appear to have wrapped up overnight.

You can review what Esteban, Dave and Andy were watching for, what the folks at the Denver Post were watching for, or if you want another voting fix, you can vote in our Front Range hikes bracket.

These aren't, of course, all of the races -- but they're the ones we've been watching closely. For complete results, you can check out the Secretary of State's website.

? Attorney general - Democrats

Current Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican, pursued an unsuccessful run for governor rather than run for reelection. District Attorney George Brauchler is running unopposed and will be the Republican nominee, and Democrats state Rep. Joe Salazar and Phil Weiser competed for the chance to face him in the general election.

Phil Weiser adjourns his election party after results in the attorney general race was still inconclusive late into his watch party at Backyard On Blake, June 26, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

With 550,000 ballots counted by 4 a.m. Wednesday, Weiser and Salazar were closer than they were Tuesday night — with 50.78 percent to 49.22 percent of the vote, respectively, with 94 percent of counties reporting.

Salazar has U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' endorsement and a reputation as a progressive who delivers fired-up speeches at the Capitol. He is an attorney and a state representative “Moderate doesn’t win Colorado anymore, it’s the progressive left that wins Colorado,” he previously said. He has been sharply critical of Weiser, and he has said that he wants to follow California's lead in staunchly opposing federal efforts in immigration enforcement.

Weiser, a first-time candidate, said he was running a "clean" campaign and wouldn't criticize Salazar. Like Salazar, he wants the feds to butt out of marijuana issues. Weiser previously worked for the Justice Department under presidents Clinton and Obama. He has the endorsement of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

? Governor - Democrats: Jared Polis

Here's Esteban's story on the gubernatorial race.

Jared Polis greets elated supporters at his primary election watch party after he was named the Democratic candidate for governor, June 26, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited. Mike Johnston, Cary Kennedy, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and Rep. Jared Polis competed to win their party's nomination.

With about 444,100 ballots counted at 8:01 p.m., Polis had a wide lead with 44 percent of votes, followed by Kennedy with 25 percent, Johnston with 23 percent and Lynne with 7 percent. By about 8 p.m., Kennedy had called Polis to concede.

At Polis' watch party in Broomfield, Jennifer Seigel, 53, and Ann Barry, 59, were cautiously optimistic that Polis will take the primary half an hour after polls closed. “We’ve been burned before,” Siegel said.

Barry is a recent immigrant from Canada who’s voting in her first election since arriving in the U.S. Immigration, she said, is a big issue for her. “it’s an emotional issue, it pulls at our heartstrings,” Seigel said, “But for me, I chose Jared because he is the perfect mix of business savvy and earned success and a caring heart.”

Jennifer Seigel (right), 53, and Ann Barry, 59, pose for a portrait during Jared Polis' watch party at the Renaissance in Broomfield, June 26, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Kennedy's watch party was at Denver restaurant La Rumba. There, Jonathan Marquez, 27 and Erika Kelley, 26, said they have never been to an elections event before. It’s the “excitement around the campaign” that got them out, Marquez said.

They found Kennedy through research online, and they perceive her as a more moderate candidate than alternatives in both parties. “Coming out of the last election, I wanted someone who had the opportunity to win,” Kelley said. Marquez describes her as “realistic about what she can achieve,” and he likes her track record in the party.

Mike, a 32-year-old who went out to Johnston's election party from Lakewood, likes Johnston's ideas, and believed his centrist appeal had the best chance of winning in the general election against a Republican candidate.

Johnston, 43, previously was the state senator for Senate 33 in northeast Denver. He also has worked as a teacher and principal, but he hasn't been able to match Cary Kennedy's support among educators, in part because he pushed for reforms to hold teachers more accountable to student performance. He's trailed both her and Jared Polis in the polls, and he's seen as a more centrist candidate.

Kennedy, 48, grew up on the Front Range and started her career as a budget analyst for Gov. Roy Romer in the 1990s. Later, she served as state treasurer from 2007 until she was unseated by Republican Walker Stapleton in 2011, and then as deputy mayor to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. She has made public schools a central plank of her platform, and she previously wrote Amendment 23, which aimed to increase schools funding. She had strong union support.

Lynne, 64, is Colorado's current lieutenant governor and a former health-care executive. She previously worked in finance, operations and health care in New York City's government. Lynne made a splash in the race when she had a "Fight for Colorado" tattoo inked, but she's widely considered to be the underdog, especially due to her low fundraising.

Polis, 43, has served Colorado's 2nd Congressional District since 2009, and before that he was on the Colorado State Board of Education. He's poured his own money -- a product of his internet businesses and good timing -- into his campaigns and has a reputation for flustering fellow Democrats. From early on, he was seen as the Democratic frontrunner thanks to his money, and it's likely his entry into the race is what chased then-favorite Rep. Ed Perlmutter back to running for reelection to the House.

? Governor - Republicans: Walker Stapleton

Here's Esteban's story on the gubernatorial race.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton celebrates with supporters. (Alyson McClaran/For Denverite)

Greg Lopez, Victor Mitchell, Doug Robinson and Stapleton competed to win their party's nomination.

Stapleton had a comfortable lead with 5 percent of counties reporting early in the evening — his 49 percent was already way out ahead of Mitchell's 31 percent, and Lopez, with 12, and Robinson, with 9, are pretty clearly left in the dust.

Robinson tweeted just before 7:30 p.m. that he'd called to congratulate Stapleton.

Stapleton, 44, has been the Colorado State Treasurer since 2011. He was born and raised on the East Coast, growing up in Connecticut’s Gold Coast. Before serving as state treasurer, Stapleton formerly worked as former chairman and CEO of Sonoma West Holdings, which is a commercial real estate company, and worked in tech startups in California. Since March, polling has shown him as the clear leader among Republicans, taking over frontrunner status from former Congressman Tom Tancredo (who later endorsed Stapleton after dropping out).

Mitchell, 52, is a former state representative from Castle Rock and businessman who calls himself the party’s outsider candidate. Thanks to an influx of his own money, he has emerged late in the primary campaign as runner-up in several polls among Republicans. Mitchell has founded six businesses and has run on a platform calling for rollback of government regulations. He served in the Colorado General Assembly between 2007 and 2009.

Robinson, 56, is a businessman and political newcomer who’s most well-known for being Mitt Romney’s nephew. He's mentioned his lack of political experience as a strength of sorts, saying he's done more from outside the system than most politicians inside it. A former investment banker, Robinson co-founded Smart Colorado with his wife, Diana, to advocate for protecting children from marijuana use after the state voted to legalize it in 2012, and has more than 20 years working in the private sector.

Lopez, 54, is the former Mayor of Parker. He made waves in April after becoming one of only two Republican candidates to qualify onto the ballot at the party’s assembly. A Texas native, he’s a vocal conservative who has touted his support of President Trump’s policies and said he’s committed to keeping Colorado from turning into California. Lopez served in the U.S. Air Force and is the former president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Lopez holds a bachelor's degree from New Mexico State University.

? U.S. House District 1 - Democrats: Diana DeGette

This Denver seat is currently occupied by Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat. She was challenged by Saira Rao.

DeGette's lead when the first results came in Tuesday night, with 34 percent of counties reporting, was a comfortable 73 percent to Rao's 27. By Wednesday morning, it remained a 71-29 split.

Late Tuesday night, DeGette's chief of staff Lisa B. Cohen said that, despite the victory, the race was a different kind of challenge this year.

“It was different because the opponent spent over half a million dollars and we’ve never seen that before so that made it a unique challenge,” she said. “I think it's clear that the Democratic Party supports a progressive leader who can get things done for them.”

DeGette, 60, has held the seat since 1997. In addition to her lengthy record in Congress, she ran on her seniority, which she said would afford her -- and Colorado -- greater influence, should the Democrats recapture the House in November.

Rao, 44, an attorney-turned-children's book publisher who surprised the local political scene by raising an impressive amount of money. She raised her profile — before running — with an op-ed about "breaking up" with the Democratic Party, and ran as a more progressive potential replacement for DeGette.

? U.S. House District 2 - Democrats: Joe Neguse

This Boulder-area seat is currently occupied by Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat who is not running for reelection. The Democrats competing for the nomination were Joe Neguse and Mark Williams.

Neguse, who enjoyed establishment support, had a comfortable lead starting early in the night, with 70 percent of votes to Williams' 30 percent.

? U.S. House District 5 - Republicans: Doug Lamborn

This Colorado Springs-and-suburbs seat is currently occupied by Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican. He was challenged by a whole slew of folks, including onetime U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn.

Lamborn cruised to an easy win early in the night — he had more than 50 percent of the first 82,000 votes counted.

? U.S. House District 6 - Democrats: Jason Crow

This Aurora-and-suburbs seat is currently occupied by Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican. He will be challenged by the winner of this primary, either Jason Crow or Levi Tillemann.

Former U.S. Army Ranger and attorney Jason Crow secured the Democratic nomination for 6th Congressional District race, beating progressive candidate and former U.S. Energy Department advisor Levi Tillemann during Tuesday’s primary election.

That’s the good news for Crow. The bad news? He now gets the pleasure of facing incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a popular Republican congressman who is used to tight races in his district and has dispatched every Democratic challenger handily in the past two general elections.

The seat is seen as the only competitive one among Colorado’s seven congressional districts. Democrats will hope the seat falls under the so-called “blue wave” this fall. The district primarily includes Aurora, with portions of Centennial, Littleton and Brighton.

Crow had establishment support and kind of an on-trend resume for Democrats who want to challenge Republicans perceived as vulnerable. Early results showed Crow with a comfortable lead — his 67 percent to Tillemann's 33 percent was the slimmest lead of the establishment-backed Democrats in the three Democratic Congressional primaries, but still more than enough to kill suspense in this race early.

Tillemann, an energy and strategy consultant, made waves with a secret recording of a conversation with U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, and by getting pepper sprayed in the face in a campaign video.

? State Senate District 32 - Democrats: Robert Rodriguez

This central-and-south Denver seat is currently occupied by Sen. Irene Aguilar, who is term-limited. Hazel Gibson, Zach Neumann and Robert Rodriguez competed for their party's nomination in this safely Democratic district.

By Wednesday morning, Rodriguez had maintained his slim lead with 39 percent, Neumann with 35 percent and Gibson with 27 percent of about 21,000 votes counted. He declared victory just after noon.

"We went against a lot of money, and sometimes that’s not everything," Rodriguez said on Tuesday night.

? State Senate District 34 - Democrats: Julie Gonzales

This northwest Denver seat is currently occupied by Sen. Lucía Guzmán, who is term-limited. Julie Gonzales, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer and Milo Schwab competed for their party's nomination in this safely Democratic district.

Julie Gonzales declared victory in Denver's Senate 34 primary Tuesday night. "This was not about me having all the answers or all the bright ideas that I alone thought up. This is about me listening to the people in the neighborhoods throughout the community."

Competitor Alan-Kennedy Shaffer pledged his support. "I’m going to continue to be part of that effort in Denver — in putting progressive values into action," he said.

The first results, at 7 p.m., showed Gonzales with a comfortable lead over her opponents with 63 percent of the vote to Schwab's 20 percent and Kennedy-Shaffer's 17 percent.

? State House District 4 - Democrats: Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez

This northwest Denver seat is currently occupied by Rep. Dan Pabon, who is term-limited. Amy Beatie, Ed Britt and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez competed for their party's nomination in this safely Democratic district.

The first batch of results Tuesday night showed that, with 58 percent of counted votes -- about 25 points more than second-place Beatie -- Gonzales-Gutierrez said she could call it a win. Beatie called to congratulate her around 7:15 p.m.

"It’s overwhelming but it’s exciting," Gonzales-Gutierrez said. "I really want to thank all of the voters that turned out, all of the support. I am excited to continue to move things forward — progressive values forward — and continue fighting for families."

? State House District 5 - Democrats: Alex Valdez

This Denver seat along I-25 from 52nd to Jewell is currently occupied by Rep. Crisanta Duran, who is term-limited. Joel Judd, Meghan Nutting, Alex Valdez and Nicky Yollick competed for their party's nomination in this safely Democratic district.

After the 10 p.m. results came in and showed Alex Valdez ahead with 43 percent of votes in Colorado House District 5, Valdez said, "We’re feeling pretty good about it. We have a pretty good lead."

That was a 15-point lead over second-place Meghan Nutting. Joel Judd had 18 percent and Nicky Yollick had 11 percent. The margin held through Wednesday morning.

"I think tonight was a great night for diversity candidates and I think that the state House is going to have a great group of young, energetic leadership coming in to do whatever we can to make this state a better place," Valdez said.

? State House District 9 - Democrats: Emily Sirota

This south Denver seat -- from about Glendale to where I-25 and I-225 meet -- is currently occupied by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, who didn't make the ballot this time. Emily Sirota and Ashley Wheeland competed for their party's nomination in this safely Democratic district.

Wednesday morning, the Secretary of State's numbers showed Sirota's 54-46 lead over Wheeland had held through the night.

Sirota declared victory just after 8 a.m. Wednesday."For months, we have been campaigning for healthcare for all, universal pre-K, paid family leave, workers’ rights, stronger gun laws and more robust investment in public education," her campaign said in an email.

"Last night’s results are a powerful victory for those causes -- and I am ready to take the fight into the general election against the Republicans, and then into the legislature."

Sirota ran under U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' endorsement, which helped her rev up a national fundraising engine. A social worker, she previously ran an unsuccessful campaign for Denver's school board.

Wheeland, former policy and political director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, described herself as an expert in health care, and pointed to her record of advocacy on specific bills at the legislature, including for health care for transgender people. Her endorsements included Ken Salazar and numerous state elected officials.

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