Hickenlooper wins Colorado Senate primary

It was just one of just several major races across the country Tuesday. Republicans are also voting in primaries in two major House battlegrounds, and former Utah Gov. John Huntsman is in a primary battle to win back his former job.

The Colorado race was the most significant contest on Tuesday because the state is essential for Democrats’ path back to the Senate majority. Hickenlooper entered the race last summer after his brief presidential bid, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately endorsed him along with a handful of candidates who dropped out of the race to get behind Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper was the prohibitive favorite for months, leaning on his successes in his two terms as governor and his universal name ID and positive image among the state’s voters. But he had stumbled in the closing stretch of the race, apologizing for racially insensitive comments and being held in contempt by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission, which ruled that he twice violated the state’s ethics laws as governor.

Those issues gave Romanoff an opening, and Republicans jumped at the chance to attack Hickenlooper, airing negative ads about him in the past couple weeks. But Democrats across the ideological spectrum, both nationally and locally, rallied around the former governor.

Romanoff, who has run on a liberal platform, argued that Hickenlooper’s moderate stances don’t meet the moment and has said the ethics ruling shows the former governor would put the seat in jeopardy. But many Democrats in the state argued Hickenlooper was still the best candidate to face Gardner this fall.

Also on the ballot Tuesday, Huntsman faces voters for the first time since he won reelection as governor in 2008, before departing to become then-President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China and later serving as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Russia. He is running against Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and several other candidates, and the race has been competitive, despite Huntsman’s prior success in the state.

House Republicans will also narrow down crowded fields in two major battleground districts in Utah and Oklahoma.

Nine contenders are vying to take on Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn, whose nabbed the upset of the cycle two years ago when she ousted GOP Rep. Steve Russell in an Oklahoma City-based seat that backed Trump by 14 points.

That race is almost certainly headed for an Aug. 25 runoff. Former lieutenant governor nominee Terry Neese and state Sen. Stephanie Bice led in early returns.

In a Salt Lake City battleground, four Republicans are competing for a chance to oust Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams. The front-runners are former NFL player Burgess Owens and state Rep. Kim Coleman, who has the backing of the political arm of the House Freedom Fund.

Voters in the district lean heavily Republican, but Trump is not popular there. He won it by 7 points in 2016 after Mitt Romney carried it by 37 points four years earlier.