Ed Sealover | Denver Business Journal
And voters from both parties in the by-mail election also are determining their nominees in several Colorado House and Senate races that pit pro-business candidates against incumbents or challengers.
The only contested statewide race in the primary is the five-way GOP U.S. Senate contest between businessman Robert Blaha, former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former Colorado State University athletic director Jack Graham and former state Rep. Jon Keyser. Incumbent Hancock is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
With public polling in the race nearly non-existent and the candidates taking a backseat to the presidential primaries for most of the contest, the primary could break for any of the five candidates.
Blaha and Graham have extolled their business backgrounds — Blaha is a longtime entrepreneur and Graham the former owner of a reinsurance company — and touted that they’ve never held elected office.
Meanwhile, attorneys Glenn and Keyser and consulting company owner Frazier have spoken about their mix of public service and private-sector experience.
There are not tremendous gaps between the candidates on most issues. Graham, for example, is the only Republican who talks about the validity of climate change when discussing his energy policies, but he, like the other four, all seek to rein in the regulatory power of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to help Colorado’s faltering oil and gas economy by curbing government interference and assuring fracking is not banned.
The winner will take on eight-year incumbent Bennet, who is flush with campaign cash but who is widely considered the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent seeking re-election in a year when Senate Republicans will have to defend a greater amount of swing seats.
On the legislative side, most of the high-profile primaries involve seats in which whoever wins the primary is considered a sure thing in the November election.
In El Paso County, for example, former state Rep. Bob Gardner and current state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt are battling for the Republican nomination to replace term-limited Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. Gardner, who served from 2007 to 2014, was known as a leader in trying to curb plaintiff’s rights and bring about judicial reform, while Klingenschmitt is more know for his conservative stances on social issues.
In Denver, Rep. Angela Williams — a Denver Democrat who chairs the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee and has been one of the strongest pro-business Democrats in that chamber — is seeking the open Senate District 33 seat against Jon Biggerstaff, a first-time candidate who has campaigned against the influence of money in politics.
Check back tonight for results on these and other key races.
Ed Sealover covers government, health care, tourism, airlines, hospitality and restaurants for the Denver Business Journal and writes for the “Capitol Business” blog. Phone: 303-803-9229.