Denver Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper won the Colorado governor’s race Tuesday after a campaign in which the GOP nominee imploded and a third-party candidate made a late surge.
The Democrat is a former brew pub owner who benefited from the collapse of GOP nominee Dan Maes and a split in the state Republican Party. Immigration hard-liner Tom Tancredo got in the race as a third-party candidate but couldn’t overcome Hickenlooper’s widespread popularity.
Hickenlooper received 5,789 votes, or 63.7 percent, in Routt County compared to Tancredo's 1,937 votes, or 21.3 percent, and Maes' 1,364 votes, or 15 percent.
Hickenlooper urged Coloradans “to focus on what we are for, not what we are against.”
“Colorado has responded to a positive campaign. We set out from the very beginning to bring people together, and our campaign realized it was not just about winning,” Hickenlooper said at a victory party.
Maes said he fought the good fight.
“We never quit; we never quit,” Maes told supporters in Colorado Springs.
Lew Wells, a nonprofit developer, said Hickenlooper stood above the fray.
“He didn’t allow himself to be pulled into the muck, which is very important because our politics are so polarized,” he said.
Art Chapman, a 78-year-old retired electronics representative, said Hickenlooper will be a good governor.
“I am nothing but optimistic about his future as governor of Colorado,” he said.
Maes won the Republican primary, but he suffered a series of campaign gaffes, including questions about his murky law enforcement his-
tory and his views on U.N. global warming conspiracies.
Hickenlooper replaces Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, who decided not to run for re-election.
Hickenlooper refused to run attack ads against his opponents, saying Colorado’s economic problems are much more serious than individual concerns. During the campaign, he spoke about his experience losing his job as geologist and getting into the restaurant business.
Tancredo, a former Republican congressman, joined the race as an American Constitution Party candidate after Maes refused to drop out following gaffes and questions about his character.
Democratic political consultant Steve Welchert said Hickenlooper had an advantage with his business experience running a Denver brew pub and his political experience running one of Colorado’s largest cities.