John Hickenlooper projected to win Colorado Senate race, a pickup for Democrats

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John Hickenlooper is projected to win Colorado’s Senate race, flipping a key seat to Democratic control, according to NBC News.

The former Colorado governor will defeat first-term Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. Democrats aim to cut into the GOP’s 53-47 Senate majority in the 2020 election. Most of the pivotal Senate races were still too early to call when NBC projected Hickenlooper’s victory.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is also projected to win Colorado’s presidential race against President Donald Trump.

Gardner faced one of the toughest paths to reelection in the Senate as Colorado drifted further into blue territory during his first term. The 46-year-old walked a political tightrope as he supported the GOP’s swift and divisive confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett but touted bipartisan work on issues such as public lands preservation.

Hickenlooper, like his party’s Senate challengers around the country, ran on a health-care-focused platform. The former two-term Democratic governor had also criticized the Senate for its inability to pass coronavirus relief as infections spiked around the country ahead of the election.

Gardner, for his part, backed a $500 billion Republican aid bill last month in a vote designed in part to show vulnerable lawmakers had tried to pass stimulus legislation. Democrats blocked the bill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried in vain to reach a larger bipartisan deal.

Since Gardner’s 2014 Senate race victory, Democrats had dominated statewide races in Colorado. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Michael Bennet won the 2016 presidential and Senate races, respectively, by more than 5 percentage points each. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis carried the state by more than 10 percentage points in 2018.

Early voting had spiked in Colorado amid the coronavirus outbreak. Every registered voter in the state receives a mail-in ballot.

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