Beauprez concedes Colo. governor’s race to John Hickenlooper

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Photo: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper gives victory speech (AP Photo)
Newly re-elected Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper smiles to applauding supporters as he arrives to deliver his victory speech, at the Capitol, in Denver, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Hickenlooper won a second term in office, narrowly defeating Republican challenger Bob Beauprez.

Update: 4:10 p.m.

Republican candidate Bob Beauprez conceded the Colorado Governor's race in a campaign email sent Wednesday afternoon. In a statement he wrote:

[...] I'm writing you a different message than I had hoped. We have been watching the results as votes continue to be counted and unfortunately at this point, even with a handful of counties still reporting, there just aren't enough options to get us across the finish line.

I just spoke with Governor Hickenlooper. We had a good conversation and I congratulated him on a hard fought race.

There are so many people who worked so hard, and words can't express our gratitude. Especially those of you around the state who knocked on doors, made phone calls, chipped in to contribute, and gave us your time and talent believing with us that together we could build a Stronger Colorado.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper declared victory Wednesday morning in a hard-fought and incredibly close race against Beauprez.

"One with no sleep can still experience great joy," Hickenlooper said at a morning press conference at the state Capitol. He and Beauprez were both up late Tuesday, with returns showing Beauprez holding a slim lead.

But as the night wore on and more liberal counties reported results, Hickenlooper took the lead.

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"Colorado has, and will continue to grow. So let's get on with it," Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper's victory is a bright spot for Democrats that had a rough night on Tuesday. Republican Cory Gardner beat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and the GOP has a strong chance at taking control of the Colorado Senate.

Hickenlooper said he would work with the Legislature, no matter which party controls it.

"No one party has all the answers," Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper faced the toughest election fight of his career with a race that was too close to call until Wednesday morning.

GOP strategist Dick Wadhams told CPR News' "Colorado Matters" that it's not uncommon for Colorado to retain a Democratic governor, even as an incumbent Democratic senator is voted out.

"A swing voter could cheerfully vote for Cory Gardner for United States Senate," said Wadhams, "and then go right down over to the governor's line and say, 'I'm going to stick with Hickenlooper on this one. Even though he's kinda disappointed me, I'm going to give him a second chance.'"

Craig Hughes, who was campaign manager for Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010, added in the same interview that Senator Udall faced the "dysfunction in Washington," whereas the economy in Colorado was relatively strong.

Photo: Bob Beauprez waves on Election Night (AP Photo)
Republican candidate for governor Bob Beauprez carries his granddaughter Katherine, 5, and waves to supporters during the GOP election night gathering at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, in Denver, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

Hickenlooper's popularity sank after a controversial death-penalty decision, a package of gun-control bills and mishaps explaining his policies.

Hickenlooper was heavily criticized as being indecisive for granting an indefinite stay of execution last year to Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of killing four people in 1993 at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese restaurant.

Hickenlooper's reprieve was not clemency, so he left the door open for a subsequent governor to execute Dunlap and his critics hammered him for that.

Beauprez was trying to become the first Republican to win the governor's office since 2002.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.