Politics

In Colorado, GOP's Darryl Glenn to Challenge Michael Bennet

Republican primary winner was backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund

Darryl Glenn won the Republican Senate primary in Colorado Tuesday and will take on incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. (Courtesy Darryl Glenn for U.S. Senate)

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn won Colorado's Republican Senate nomination Tuesday night.   

With 78 percent of precincts reporting, Glenn carried 37 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press .   

Ending the pre-primary reporting period with $50,000, Glenn starts at a fundraising disadvantage compared to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who has $5.7 million in the bank.   

[ How Michael Bennet Got Lucky ]   

Glenn's victory in the five-way primary comes as somewhat of a surprise given that he spent much less than self-funders Jack Graham and Robert Blaha. He ran his primary campaign with an all-volunteer staff .  

But he had late support from Senate Conservatives Fund, which spent $500,000 on his behalf, and FreedomWorks, as well as a host of conservative GOP leaders.   

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed him, and in recent days, he earned the backing of Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.   

Glenn has promised to vote against Mitch McConnell for majority leader.   

Glenn was the only candidate of the five who qualified for Tuesday's GOP primary ballot at the state party convention — a gathering of fervent conservatives.   

There had been no public polling of the primary, leaving even close observers of Colorado politics to conclude days before the race, "Really, anything is possible." Graham, a former Democrat and athletic director of Colorado State University, and Blaha, a businessman with a penchant for blunt, Trump-like talk, spent the most money. They finished second and third, respectively.   

Former state Rep. Jon Keyser , a major in the Air Force Reserve, finished fourth. When he burst on the scene, he was heralded as the establishment favorite. His allies talked up his "made-for-TV" qualities, and he bragged about the $3 million he said he received in soft money pledges when he attended the Republican Jewish Coalition's Presidential Forum in Washington, D.C., late last year.     

But drawn-out problems with his ballot signatures — and his inability to quickly and directly address concerns about forged signatures — blemished that reputation .      

Bennet is the only Democratic senator Republicans had a chance of knocking off this year. It remains to be seen how much outside support will come to Glenn's aide to try to unseat Bennet in this seat which The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates Democrat Favored .  

[ Republicans Struggle to Keep Colorado Senate Race in Play ]  

For months, Republicans waited for another Cory Gardner — the state's junior senator – to get in the race. But a number of the party's high-profile recruits passed on the race for different reasons , and complications with ballot signatures even tripped up a number of the candidates who made it to the June 28 primary.  

Contact Pathé at  simonepathe@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter at  @sfpathe .

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