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Michael Bennet wins Colorado Senate primary

Appointed Sen. Michael Bennet defeated former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the Colorado Democratic Senate primary Tuesday, the marquee event of a night in which four states were slated to pick candidates for the fall.

(Interactive: Drill in on the Colorado 2010 races)

"We're in fighting shape now, and any opponent who stands against us will have a heck of a time staring down our unified front of Coloradans," Bennet wrote in an e-mail to supporters Tuesday night.

The Associated Press called the race for Bennet shortly after 10 p.m. Eastern time.

Bennet's victory is rightly regarded as a win for the White House and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee who had both endorsed the appointed incumbent. With the win, Bennet avoided becoming the third Senate incumbent to lose a bid for re-nomination this year.

In the Republican race, Weld County prosecutor Ken Buck bested former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.

Colorado Democrats also nominated Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper for the open governor's seat. In the race for the Republican nod, businessman Dan Maes defeated former Rep. Scott McInnis, the Associated Press reported early Wednesday. Hickenlooper will be a heavy favorite in the fall. (Both Maes and McInnis had weathered major scandals in recent weeks.)

While Colorado drew the vast amount of attention nationally, Georgia, Connecticut and Minnesota also held elections today.

The race between former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) and former state Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) in Georgia's gubernatorial runoff was too close to call and a recount was likely, the AP reported early Wednesday. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the two were separated by about 2,500 votes out of 581,000 cast.

A Deal win would be an upset from the July 20 primary in which Handel took the top spot. The former Congressman was backed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as well as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), who gave Deal a last-minute boost with a rally over the weekend. Handel, meanwhile, was backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

If Deal prevails, he will go on to face former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) in November. Democrats are likely to more heavily target the race if Deal wins as they believe him to be the weaker GOP nominee.

In Connecticut, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy cruised to a surprisingly comfortable win in the Democratic gubernatorial primary over 2006 Senate nominee Ned Lamont. Former Ambassador Tom Foley beat back Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele on the Republican side.

Former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R) and state Attorney General Dick Blumenthal (D) won their respective primaries and will face off for the seat being vacated by Sen. Chris Dodd (D) this fall.

And, in Minnesota, former Sen. Mark Dayton eked out a narrow win over state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher while state Rep. Matt Entenza lagged behind in the Democratic gubernatorial race. The Associated Press called the race at about 1:25 a.m., with Dayton ahead by about 4,000 votes.

State Rep. Tom Emmer is the Republican nominee as Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) leaves office after two terms to prepare for a 2012 presidential run.

With Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 11, 2010; 2:37 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Mixed results for party establishment in Colorado Senate primaries

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