State Rep. Randy Baumgardner has earned his chance to return to the Capitol as a state senator.
Baumgardner easily defeated incumbent state Sen. Jean White, of Hayden, on Tuesday night in what proved to be one of Colorado’s more heated Republican primary elections this cycle.
The Denver Post reported Baumgardner won all seven counties that comprise Senate District 8. The final vote tallies showed Baumgardner won with 58 percent of the vote.
“Honestly, I’m just glad it’s over,” Baumgardner said after he learned about his victory. “I came to the realization that up or down, I was ready for it to end. I was tickled people thought enough for me to support me, even with all the bad press out there and all the inaccuracies. I thank all of them who stood with me and supported me.”
Baumgardner said he plans to move past a recent story published by multiple news outlets, including national outlets and the Steamboat Today, that a sex offender was living at his home in Hot Sulphur Springs. FOX 31 Denver originally reported that the sex offender was unregistered but later clarified he registered in April.
“I think that’s a nonissue,” Baumgardner said about the story. “We’re going to move forward.”
The Senate District 8 primary was contentious from the moment Baumgardner announced his candidacy hours after White did in December. It got more contentious as primary day approached.
Third-party ads attacked both candidates on several fronts, including White for her support of civil unions and Baumgardner for his vote to increase vehicle registration fees.
The candidates spent much of the campaign focusing on their differences and strutting their conservative credentials.
White said she was disappointed when she and about 30 supporters watched the results trickle in from the HiWay Bar in Hayden.
“I was disappointed that his lies trumped my truths,” she said about Baumgardner after she conceded the race. “I’m proud of my campaign. I can stand proud. I stood on my principles. I worked hard. I ran a clean campaign. And unfortunately, the lies won.”
Baumgardner won the race despite White’s significant cash advantage.
The latest campaign finance reports showed that White raised $55,630 through June 18, more than double the $21,373 raised by Baumgardner.
Baumgardner spent the final days of the campaign talking with voters in Garfield, Jackson, Grand and Summit counties.
“I’m going to take a couple of days off and breathe,” he said Tuesday night. Then, I’m going to get out and start making the rounds.”
He also disavowed the attack ads and fliers that targeted both candidates.
“I tried to stick to our records,” he said. “I know there was a lot of third-party involvement, and neither one of us could control that.”
Early in the campaign, White accused Baumgardner of backing off of a previous promise he made to not run for the seat.
“I’m disappointed that he chose to run against me, especially after he gave me his word that he wouldn’t,” White told the Steamboat Today in December. “He looked me in the eye and told me he wasn’t going to run a primary against me.”
White was appointed to fill the state Senate District 8 seat in January 2011 after her husband, Al White, was named as director of the Colorado Tourism Office.
Baumgardner said this month that his constituents encouraged him to run after his legislative district was redrawn.
Comparing his higher rating from the Colorado Union of Taxpayers to White’s, Baumgardner said last month that he was the more conservative candidate.
Senate District 8 includes all or parts of Routt, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Summit counties. Despite recent redistricting, Baumgardner will maintain an advantage over his Democratic opponent Emily Tracy going into the general election. Of the district’s 144,590 residents, 38 percent of registered voters are Republican, 26 percent are Democrats, and 35 percent are unaffiliated.
Baumgardner will face Tracy, of Breckenridge, in the general election. According to her campaign website, Tracy has lived in Colorado since 1965 and has worked for the Summit Chamber of Commerce and co-chaired the Summit Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Council.
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