One could almost hear the collective sighs of relief among Colorado Republicans Tuesday night as Bob Beauprez was declared the winner of their four-man primary for governor.
In defeating highly controversial runner-up and former Rep. Tom Tancredo by a margin of 31 percent to 26 percent, Beauprez, also a former congressman and a past state GOP chairman, earned the right to face Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
But more than a few Republicans were simply relieved not to have Tancredo leading their statewide ticket in what appears to be a very winnable race for them.
After overseeing a tax increase and signing a highly unpopular gun control measure into law, Hickenlooper is considered highly vulnerable in 2014. In addition, the governor led his state into the Medicaid exchange and is a strong defender of Obamacare.
During his decade in Congress and in a brief presidential bid in 2008, Tancredo became one of the nation's best-known opponents of illegal immigration. Many Republicans feared that some of his controversial statements on the issue would drive away Hispanic-American voters who might otherwise be tempted to support the GOP nominee against Hickenlooper.
In addition, Tancredo was a proud supporter of the Centennial State's decriminalization of marijuana.
"Colorado Republicans could have been saddled with a divisive and reckless candidate for governor who would have become an unwelcome diversion for Republicans in other competitive races," former State GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams told Newsmax.
"Instead, they nominated a strong challenger to failed Gov. John Hickenlooper. Bob Beauprez won this race by setting forth clear differences with a governor who can't make a decision. All Republicans can rally around Bob Beauprez."
To no one's surprise, Rep. Cory Gardner will face Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in one is sure to be one of the hardest-fought Senate races of the year. The easy winner of the GOP nomination in the 4th District vacated by Gardiner was fellow conservative Ken Buck. Four years ago, Buck lost a heart-breakingly close Senate race to Democrat Michael Bennet.
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