Hickenlooper beats Gardner, gives Senate Dems pickup in Colorado

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Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper captured GOP Sen. Cory Gardner’s seat Tuesday night, giving Democrats a pickup they were counting on in their drive to flip the Senate.

Hickenlooper, who entered the race after bowing out of a short-lived run for president last year, maintained a double-digit lead in public polling in the month leading up to the election. The former Colorado governor and mayor of Denver had once dismissed the idea of serving in the Senate, stating in 2019 he was “not cut out to be a senator.” But he jumped into the race a week after ending his presidential campaign, driving other Democrats out of the primary.

Hickenlooper tried throughout the campaign to tie President Donald Trump together with Gardner, pointing to his voting record on issues ranging from repealing the Affordable Care Act to impeachment. In October, Gardner voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett following the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Gardner argued during the race a Democratic Senate majority would endanger energy jobs in Colorado and threaten tax cuts enacted during the Trump administration. The first-term senator campaigned as a senator willing to work across the aisle to enact legislation, arguing Hickenlooper’s policy positions were too liberal for Colorado.

Gardner also repeatedly called attention to a finding by Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission that Hickenlooper violated the state’s gift ban for elected officials on two occasions.

But with the state’s steady shift to the left and strong fundraising by Hickenlooper down the stretch, Gardner faced an upward climb for the pivotal Senate seat, which he flipped from Democratic control in 2014 to help Republicans build a new majority that year.

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