DENVER – Darryl Glenn emerged as the winner Tuesday following a divisive and chaotic five-man Republican U.S. Senate race that observers saw as uncertain to the last minute.
Glenn will now turn his attention to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet, who has received more than $7.6 million in individual contributions and has more than $5.7 million in the bank, after already purchasing significant television advertising in recent months.
Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner, earned 37 percent of the vote as of 8:30 p.m. He was followed by Jack Graham with 25 percent, Robert Blaha with 16 percent, Jon Keyser with 13 percent and Ryan Frazier with 9 percent.
Glenn benefited in the primary from high-profile endorsements, including from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – both conservative icons. Glenn also had the support of the powerful Senate Conservatives Fund.
He was considered an underdog in the race, but he shocked observers in April at the Republican state convention when he blew past a crowded field to emerge as the only candidate to caucus onto the ballot.
Many believe it was his fiery convention speech that helped propel him to victory, both at the convention and in the primary.
“We are just so humbled by the support from all over Colorado, and we look forward to continuing to fight for families, jobs and education, and everything that matters to this state,” said Jillian Likness, a Glenn spokeswoman.
But Glenn must now face a general election where his right-leaning beliefs may not serve him well with unaffiliated voters. Behind the scenes, Democrats hoped Glenn would prevail, as they believe Bennet can easily defeat him.
“While Darryl Glenn endorses Donald Trump, thinks Ted Cruz should be our next Supreme Court justice and believes the problem with Washington is ‘Republicans reaching across the aisle,’ Michael Bennet takes on dysfunction in Washington and works with both political parties,” said Bennet campaign spokesman Andrew Zucker.
In terms of turnout, Republicans returned 332,442 ballots as of 6 p.m., representing 33 percent of total ballots sent. The most comparable recent Republican primary would be the 2014 gubernatorial contest, when 384,749 Republicans cast ballots in the four-man race, representing 43 percent of total ballots returned.
This year’s U.S. Senate primary was dogged by seemingly endless controversy, twists and turns, which ultimately evolved into a saga.
From court challenges to unflattering viral videos of candidates, Democrats rejoiced over the negative headlines in the race.
The four losing candidates congratulated Glenn on his victory Tuesday, and they appeared ready to rally behind Glenn this November.
“We ran a race we are proud of and wouldn’t change a thing,” Blaha said. “This country is worth fighting for.”