Following a vote that held zero suspense, Colorado Republicans on Saturday made it official: U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has won the nomination for a second term.
Gardner received the votes of 96% of delegates to the GOP's state assembly and convention, which was held remotely the morning of April 18 with results announced Saturday, capping a caucus and assembly season unlike any before seen, as political activity moved online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Long-shot challenger Margot Dupre, a Colorado Springs real estate agent, got 4% of the vote in balloting that was conducted over a five-day period using the online Txt2Vote app and by mail.
Gardner, whose re-election bid routinely ranks among the top-contested Senate races in the country this year, will face the winner of a June Democratic primary that so far features former Gov. John Hickenlooper, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and first-time candidate Michelle Ferrigno Warren, an immigrant rights activist.
State Republicans also elected radio talk show host and tea party leader Randy Corporon to an open national committeeman seat on the Republican National Committee and voted to return Vera Ortegón, a former Pueblo councilwoman, for another four-year term as national committeewoman.
Gardner celebrated his nomination in an email to supporters Saturday morning.
"I'm now one step closer to not just winning on Nov. 3 but to keeping Colorado on the right track, and providing our state with the common-sense, pro-growth leadership that we need right now," Gardner wrote.
Previewing the campaign Gardner has indicated he intends to run through the summer and fall, he added: "I'm confident that with your continued support, we'll overcome the Democrats' targeted efforts to flip Colorado and turn our state into their next failed socialist experiment."
National election forecasters have moved Colorado's Senate race from the toss-up column to favor the Democratic nominee in recent weeks, citing Gardner's lagging poll numbers and President Donald Trump's enduring unpopularity in the state, which took a sharp turn toward the Democrats in the last election.
Correction: spelling of Ortegón's name.
Corporon prevailed in the race for the RNC post with 41% of the vote in a five-way race that also included former state Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, veteran GOP activist Andy Jones, former El Paso County GOP chairman Eli Bremer and newcomer Farid Jalil.
Corporon, who described himself in campaign material as a "Pumped-up Purveyor of Principled, Passionate Patriotism," takes over in August for George Leing, a former congressional candidate who declined to seek another term on the RNC, at the conclusion of the Republican National Convention.
Ortegón, who received 45% of the vote in a five-way race and was 2014 gubernatorial hopeful Mike Kopp's pick for lieutenant governor, will remain on the RNC along with Colorado's other member, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the state party chairman.
The state GOP also picked at-large delegates to the national convention, set to take place in Charlotte, N.C. Like the RNC delegates already elected in earlier congressional district conventions, they're all supporting Trump, following the president's commanding win in Colorado's March 3 Republican presidential primary.
A slate of seven RNC delegates designated by the Trump campaign were approved by 81% of state delegates in an up-or-down vote, and another six were elected by scoring the highest vote totals from among dozens of candidates.
The Trump slate included Arthur Ortegón, Dean Stoecker, Don Ytterberg, Garry Kirkland, Kaye Rendleman, Martha Brown and Robert Blaha.
The RNC delegates elected individually were led by state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and former state Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, followed by Cadman, Keenan Orcut, Joe Nuñez and Kim Ransom.
Another 13 Colorado Republicans were named alternates to the RNC. In the order of votes received, they are Barbara Piper, Eli Bremer, Nancy McKiernan, Dede Laugesen, Michelle Campbell, Sue Johnson, Lilly Nuñez, Michael Campbell, state Sen. Larry Crowder, Cheryl Crowder, Aleta You, Rachel Keane and Kathleen Chandler.
The state Republican assembly and convention was held online using Caucus Room, a Colorado-based social networking site for conservatives, and was live-streamed on Facebook and the state party's website.