DENVER | Darryl Glenn, a county commissioner from deeply conservative Colorado Springs, rode endorsements from Sen. Ted Cruz and other big names on the right to win Colorado’s Republican Senate primary and face a well-funded Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November.
Glenn’s decisive victory in Tuesday’s five-way primary set up an uphill battle with Bennet, once considered vulnerable in this swing state for his close association with President Barack Obama. Only two years ago, Coloradans ousted Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and replaced him with then-U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner.
Having outflanked his fellow conservatives to secure the nomination, Glenn now has to tack to the center — as Gardner did in 2014 — to woo enough of Colorado’s independent voters, who outnumber both registered Republicans and Democrats.
Glenn said he was confident he could expand his appeal to moderates and independents.
“What we found out during the campaign is that Coloradans care about the Iran deal, Obamacare and excessive regulations that are hurting working families. Michael Bennet has to account for it,” Glenn said.
Bennet, meanwhile, has been raising millions for his re-election and aired campaign ads featuring his work for Coloradans while the Republicans slugged it out.
Glenn, a self-described Christian constitutional conservative, has embraced Donald Trump, suggested working with Democrats isn’t a priority, and condemned Bennet’s support for the Iran nuclear deal, health overhaul and environmental regulations that hurt the coal industry.
“Darryl Glenn in the Senate would rubber stamp Donald Trump’s agenda,” said Bennet campaign spokesman Andrew Zucker. “He’s too extreme for Colorado.”
Glenn won late endorsements from Cruz, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the Senate Conservatives Fund, which poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign.
He defeated Robert Blaha, a Colorado Springs businessman; Jack Graham, a retired businessman from Fort Collins who appealed to the party’s moderates; former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier; and former state Rep. Jon Keyser, a decorated combat veteran who focused nearly exclusively on national security.
Keyser, the national GOP’s early favorite, stumbled over fraudulent petition signatures submitted by his campaign to qualify for the primary.
Ryan Call, a former chair of the Colorado GOP, said Glenn “hasn’t had his own voice and his own campaign driving the message — it’s largely the outside groups driving a stronger conservative message.” But he said he hoped Glenn could tailor his campaign to capture moderates — as Gardner did when he eased his stand on abortion — in the general election.
James Anderson can be reached at https://www.twitter.com/jandersonap