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GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, center hugs his aunt Judy Blackford while greeting friend Paul Johnson after O’Dea’s race against Ron Hamnks was Calle din O’Dea’s favor at an election watch party at Mile High Station on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in Denver, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette)

Big win for the GOP's establishment wing. As Gazette reporter Debbie Kelley noted in her analysis of Tuesday night's results, Republicans who believed and promoted Donald Trump's claims of widespread election rigging in 2020 lost to the party's establishment wing – candidates widely regarded as mainstream Republicans, notably Heidi Ganahl, Joe O’Dea and Pam Anderson winning their  primaries for governor, Senate and secretary of state, respectively.

Lauren Boebert, incumbents beat back challengers. U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, easily beat her primary challenger, state Sen. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose. So did U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who won the Republican nomination for a ninth term representing the 5th Congressional District and defeated leading challenger Dave Williams, a three-term state lawmaker from Colorado Springs. The incumbents' sweep is not extraordinary. Colorado voters reliably return congressional incumbents to D.C. 

A more competitive general election? Doug Friednash, an attorney with powerhouse Denver law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and former chief of staff to former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, told Colorado Politics the Republicans’ “sanity slate” prevailed. “The big question for me was — it seems it’s a very favorable political climate for Republicans — if they could take advantage of it. Can they put themselves in a position where they could win in November?” Friednash said. "They put themselves in a really strong position for some key races in the state. I think their ‘sanity slate’ prevailed.”

Doug Friednash, an attorney with Brownstein and former chief of staff to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, tells Colorado Politics that state Republicans’ “sanity slate” prevailed, with Heidi Ganahl, Joe O’Dea and Pam Anderson poised to win their respective races.

Democrats' gambit fell flat. Democrats spent millions of dollars in what former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens described as a "disingenuous" attempt to influence the state's Republican primaries for governor and U.S. Senate by encouraging GOP voters to nominate "second tier" candidates. Democrats insisted they were simply telling voters that Greg Lopez and Ron Hanks  are "too conservative for Colorado." The tactic clearly failed.    

Owens slams Democrats' ads boosting '2nd-tier' GOP candidates for Colorado governor, US Senate
Colorado Senate candidate Joe O'Dea sues over mailers comparing him with GOP primary rival Ron Hanks

The unaffiliated vote. The major action in Tuesday's primary occurred, for the most part, on the Republican side of the aisle since incumbent Democrats running for statewide races faced no opposition from party mates. And that's likely the reason why 140,000 of Colorado's unaffiliated voters picked up a Republican ballot — 37,000 more than those who chose a Democratic ballot — according to the tally of returned ballots as of 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. What's not immediately clear is how the unaffiliated voters swayed the election – or to what extend they did – in favor of the GOP's establishment wing. The big question is – after voting Republican ballots in the primary, will enough unaffiliated voters stick with the Republican ticket in November?

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