DENVER (CBS4) – The race to become Colorado’s next senator in Washington is on after Colorado Republicans picked their candidate in the primary Tuesday night.
Republican Darryl Glenn will face incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet — and Colorado’s Senate races are often tight. Bennet won by two points in 2010 and Republican Cory Gardner won by two points is 2014.
This year’s race is widely seen as the Republicans best opportunity to pick up a seat in the Senate this year and maintain control of the chamber. Democrats need five seats to flip the balance of power.
Bennet is considered the most vulnerable incumbent Democrat in the Senate, but his new opponent sounds a lot like his last one.
“The theme of this campaign is it’s time for Colorado to lead, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Glenn told an audience when Sen. Ted Cruz was in town to endorse him.
Maybe nobody is happier about Glenn’s win than Bennet. The incumbent Democrat feared another Gardner — a mainstream Republican who unseated Mark Udall in 2014. Instead, he got another Ken Buck — a Tea Party darling who lost to Bennet in 2010 in a Republican wave year.
Colorado Democrats are already framing Glenn as too extreme for Colorado. It was a well-worn attack line used against Buck.
“Darryl Glenn is so extreme — the comments that he’s made about embracing Donald Trump, supporting Ted Cruz, not working with Democrats,” former Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar told CBS4’s Shaun Boyd.
But Glenn says this is 2016, not 2010, and that Trump was also dismissed.
“History is great to go back and look at, but I’m not Ken Buck,” Glenn told Boyd. “You can’t really put me in a box because it’s about leadership, and I’m an Air Force Academy grad, I’m a retired military officer, a small business owner. I was parent teacher conference president.”
He’s also the grassroots candidate in an anti-establishment year, which could help or hurt.
The National Senatorial Campaign Committee has indicated it won’t provide financial support, and Glenn has $50,000 in the bank to Bennet’s $5 million.
“Trust me, the money is going to be there because they see somebody that they can actually believe in,” Glenn said.
Glenn endorsed Ted Cruz in the presidential primary but says he will support Trump, who he’s called a patriot. Trump will be in Colorado on Friday. There are no plans yet for the two candidates to meet.