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United States Senate election in Colorado, 2004

 

United States Senate election in Colorado, 2004

United States Senate election in Colorado, 2004

November 2, 2004

 
Nominee Ken Salazar Pete Coors
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,081,188 980,668
Percentage 51.3% 47.4%

County results

U.S. Senator before election

Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Ken Salazar
Democratic

The 2004 United States Senate election in Colorado took place on November 2, 2004 alongside other elections to the United States Senate in other states as well as elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell decided to retire instead of seeking a third term. Democratic nominee Ken Salazar won the open seat.

Background

On March 3, 2004, incumbent Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell announced that he would not seek reelection due to health concerns, having recently been treated for prostate cancer and heartburn.[1] Before Campbell's retirement, no prominent Democrat had entered the race, with educator Mike Miles and businessman Rutt Bridges pursuing the Democratic nomination. After Campbell's retirement, many expected popular Republican Governor Bill Owens to enter the race, however he declined to run. Campbell's retirement and Owens' decision not to run prompted a number of prominent Democrats to reexamine the race.

Democratic primary

Candidates

Campaign

On March 10, the same day Owens announced he would not run, U.S. Congressman Mark Udall entered the race. The next day, state Attorney General Ken Salazar entered the race, leading Udall to immediately withdraw and endorse him. Salazar lost to Mike Miles at the State nominating convention. In spite of this loss, the national Democratic Party backed Salazar with contributions from the DSCC and promotion of Salazar as the only primary candidate.

Results

Democratic Primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ken Salazar 173,167 73.02%
Democratic Mike Miles 63,973 26.98%
Totals 237,140 100.00%

Republican primary

Candidates

Campaign

The two candidates got into an ideological battle, as Schaffer attacked Coors because his company had provided benefits to the partners of its gay and lesbian employees, in addition to promoting its beer in gay bars. Coors defended himself by saying that he was opposed to same-sex marriage, and supported a constitutional amendment to ban it, although he noted that he supported civil unions for gay couples. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Coors described his company's pro-LGBT practices as "good business, separate from politics."[3]

Results

Coors defeated Schaffer with 61% of the vote in the primary, with many analysts citing his high name recognition in the state as a primary factor.

Republican Primary results[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Pete Coors 203,157 60.57%
Republican Bob Schaffer 132,274 39.43%
Totals 335,431 100.00%

General election

Candidates

Major

Minor

  • Douglas Campbell (C)
  • Victor Good (Re)
  • Finn Gotaas (I)
  • John Harris (I)
  • Richard Randall (L)

Campaign

Pete Coors, Chairman of Coors Brewing Company, ran as a moderate conservative. However, Salazar was also a moderate and a highly popular State Attorney General.[5] Coors is also a great-grandson of Adolph Coors, founder of the brewing company. His father is Joseph Coors, President of the company and founding member of the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation. Salazar narrowly won the open seat. It was one of only two Democratic pickups in the 2004 Senate elections (Illinois was the other).

Finances

According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics (CPS), Coors gave his own campaign $1,213,657 and received individual donations of $60,550 from other Coors family members.

A state record total of over $11 million was raised during the election.[6]

Polling

Poll Source[7] Date(s)
administered
Sample
size
Margin of
Error
Pete
Coors
(R)
Ken
Salazar
(D)
Unde-
cided
Survey USA October 30 705 ± 3.8% 47% 51% 3%
Zogby October 28 600 ± 4.1% 46% 52% 4%
Rocky Mountain News October 27 500 ± 4.3% 42% 48% 4%
Mason-Dixon October 25 625 ± 4.8% 46% 46% 7%
Survey USA October 20 596 ± 4.1% 50% 46% 1%
Ciruli Assoc October 19 600 ± 4.0% 43% 47% 10%
Rasmussen Reports October 18 500 ± 4.5% 49% 48% 1%
Gallup/CNN/USA Today October 14 666 ± 4.0% 48% 49% 3%
Rocky Mountain News October 13 400 ± 4.9% 45% 40% 6%
Survey USA October 5 594 ± 4.1% 48% 48% 1%
Mason-Dixon October 4 630 ± 5.0% 44% 46% 9%
Gallup/CNN/USA Today October 3 667 ± 5.0% 43% 54% 3%
Survey USA Sept. 24 625 ± 4.0% 51% 46% -
Ciruli Assoc Sept. 14 600 ± 4.0% 45% 46% 9%
Rasmussen Reports Sept. 16 500 ± 4.3% 49% 48% 1%
Tarrance Group (R) Sept. 14 - ± 4.5% 44% 46% -
RMN/News 4 Sept. 14 500 ± 4.3% 42% 53% 4%
Tarrance Group (R) August 24 600 ± 4.0% 43% 47% 10%
Rasmussen Reports August 19 500 ± 4.5% 45% 49% 4%
Survey USA August 14 618 ± 4.0% 48% 47% 5%

Results

General election results[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ken Salazar 1,081,188 51.30% +16.29%
Republican Pete Coors 980,668 46.53% -15.96%
Constitution Douglas Campbell 18,783 0.89% +0.15%
Libertarian Richard Randall 10,160 0.48%
Independent John R. Harris 8,442 0.40%
Reform Victor Good 6,481 0.31%
Independent Finn Gotaas 1,750 0.08%
Majority 100,520 4.77% -22.70%
Turnout 2,107,472
Democratic hold Swing

References

  1. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/04/us/gop-senator-campbell-of-colorado-will-retire.html
  2. ^ http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/ElectionArchives/2004/Abstract2003-2004.pdf
  3. ^ Rocky Mountain News : Denver News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information
  4. ^ http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/ElectionArchives/2004/Abstract2003-2004.pdf
  5. ^ http://dir.salon.com/story/opinion/conason/2004/10/22/coors/index.html
  6. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-2762144.html
  7. ^ http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Presidential_04/co_polls.html
  8. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/2004/2004Stat.htm#6
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