Live Updates From Colorado’s 2018 Primary Election, As It Happened

Photo: Colorado Primary Ballots | Hand Model - JHill
The 2018 primary is the state's first where unaffiliated voters could participate in the major party's primaries. Independent voters received two ballots, but only one can be returned.

The state's largest voting bloc — unaffiliated voters — is adding a new dimension to the race to succeed two-term Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. The 2018 primary is the first election since the 2016 voter-passed initiative that opened up the state's major party primaries. Will it have an impact? Tonight's results will be telling.

Where We Stand

The Latest

9:43 p.m. — We're wrapping up the live blog. Thanks for hanging with us tonight. If you're looking for the primary results, you can find them here.

9:37 p.m. — State Rep. Dave Young wins the Democratic primary for treasurer: The lawmaker from Greeley handily defeated Bernard Douthit, a businessman and political newcomer from Denver. Young will face the winner of a tightly contested Republican primary in November. As of this update, Brian Watson held the lead in the three-way contest for the GOP nomination. Results can be found here.

9:26 p.m. — Polis is promising a "bold" campaign: Polis won the nomination Tuesday night in a four-way contest. "I'm running for governor to protect our Colorado way of life from the special interests who try to stack the deck in their favor," he told supporters at a hotel in Broomfield.

Polis was a successful businessman before entering politics. He spent $12 million on his primary campaign. That allowed him to reject donations from political campaign committees. He's expected to tap his fortune more in the general election.

Jared Polis closed out his victory speech saying it's time for a coalition of Democrats, Unaffiliated and "rational Republicans" to stop Donald Trump and Walker Stapleton.

9:02 p.m. — Colorado hasn't elected a Republican governor since Bill Owens: In a victory speech shortly after winning the Republican primary for governor, Colorado state Treasurer Walker Stapleton thanked his supporters and quickly pivoted to the general election, taking shots at his Democratic opponent.

Stapleton is already laying the groundwork for a narrative that Polis is a tax-and-spend radical progressive. Meanwhile, Stapleton will sell himself as a prudent fiscal conservative, keeping the conversation about PERA and the tax plan.

"Make no mistake, as governor, Jared Polis will raise every tax and fee he can to take more money from hardworking Coloradans," Stapleton said, according to remarks provided by his campaign.

8:35 p.m. — Just over 10,000 votes separate the Democratic AG's race: Phil Weiser, who worked for the University of Colorado law school, is leading 51 percent to state Rep. Joe Salazar, who had garnered 48 percent.  The seat is open because current Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is not running again. Whichever Democrat wins will face Republican George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney.

8:23 p.m. — Cary Kennedy has conceded: The small amount of tension that was present in the race was between Kennedy and Rep. Jared Polis, over an attack ad from a PAC that supported Kennedy. Now, she is throwing her weight behind Polis to "make sure that Walker Stapleton does not become the next Colorado governor."

Kennedy emphasized the need to not just rally around Polis, but to also claim Democratic seats in the statehouse and state Senate, as well as the Attorney General's office.

"There are 134 days until the election, 134 days to make sure we keep the governor's office blue in Colorado," she said in her speech.

7:54 p.m. — AP calls the Democratic U.S. House race in the 6th Congressional District for Jason Crow: The race garnered national attention after Crow's opponent publicized efforts by leading Democrats to force him out of the race. Crow is a veteran and party leaders saw him as the best chance to defeat Republican Mike Coffman who also served overseas.

7:52 p.m. — The Democratic primary race for Attorney General is close: The contest between party establishment candidate Phil Weiser, who got a boost from an endorsement from John Hickenlooper, and Joe Salazar, a favorite of the progressive branch of the party, has been one of the few competitive races so far.

7:46 p.m. — AP calls the GOP primary in the 5th Congressional District for incumbent Doug Lamborn.

7:45 p.m. — AP calls the Democratic governor's primary for Jared Polis: The  five-term congressman, former state board of education member, self-made millionaire and philanthropist secured the nomination Tuesday against former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne.

Polis supports publicly-funded preschool and kindergarten, forgiveness of college debt, single-payer health care and promoting renewable energy.

7:37 p.m. — AP calls the Democratic U.S. House race in the 1st Congressional District for Diana DeGette: Challenger Saira Rao had hoped to unseat the longtime incumbent with her campaign aimed at challenging the status quo and broadening the appeal of the Democratic Party among women of color.

7:30 p.m. — AP calls the GOP governor's primary for Walker Stapleton. Fellow Republican candidate Doug Robinson has already called to concede the race to Stapleton and pledge his campaign support.

Stapleton led a field that collectively vowed to defend any attempt to tamper with Colorado's constitutional Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which leaves it to voters to approve tax hikes. He also aligned himself with President Donald Trump on immigration, health care and the federal tax plan.

7:29 p.m. — Polis in the lead: The former tech entrepreneur has put about $11 million dollars into his own campaign. That's more than what all the candidates for governor spent in 2014. The spending could be part of the reason why he leads in recent polls. Supporters at his Broomfield campaign party, however, give more credit to his plan for universal pre-K and single-payer health care. 

7:22 p.m. — A majority of precincts have reported: Colorado's all-mail ballot elections usually deliver quick results, and tonight is falling in with that trend. Nearly 70 percent of precincts have reported in several races. Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton lead their respective races for governor. Incumbent Diana DeGette has a large lead over challenger Saira Rao and Republican Doug Lamborn is out in front in the 5th Congressional District. Results can be found here.

7:05 p.m. — Early returns are in as polls close: Colorado polls closed at 7 p.m. and in the governor's race Jared Polis leads the pack with 18.2 percent of precincts reporting. On the GOP side Walker Stapleton is in the lead with 52 percent of the early vote. These are the initial returns and we expect more as precincts tabulate their votes. Results can be found here.

6:26 p.m. — Eyes on the governor's candidate celebrations tonight: Reporter Michael Sakas is on site at Cary Kennedy's election party at La Rumba in Denver, Sam Brasch is with the Polis Campaign in Broomfield, and Ann Marie Awad is hanging out at the Walker Stapleton party and their popcorn machine. Be sure to follow each reporter on Twitter for the latest from each campaign HQ.

6:18 p.m. — 5 Things to watch tonight: There's a lot to unpack tonight. Who will be the big names facing off for governor? Will the state's Republicans show loyalty to President Trump? Is Diana DeGette safe? The Denver Post breaks down the primary's top storylines.

5:43 p.m. — Let's do the numbers: It's no secret that we're big numbers nerds. We are, after all, spending a huge chunk of time tracking and charting the state's core economic numbers. Curious about the state's total active voter count? Here's the breakdown by major bloc from the Sec. of State's office:

  • Unaffiliated - 1,220,312
  • Democrat - 1,023,036
  • GOP - 1,004,341

5:17 p.m. — Unaffiliated voters have a voice now: Marcelo Simoes, an unaffiliated voter since 2011 when he became a United States citizen, has been living in Colorado for nearly 20 years. He’s always wanted to vote in a primary.

"When we vote in the primary, we have somebody that will be eventually a final candidate that we will have a stronger support," Simoes said. "We are helping to make the democracy stronger."

A little more than one third of Colorado registered voters are signed up as unaffiliated.

4:36 p.m. — Voter turnout has been surprising: Nearly a million ballots have been collected so far by the Secretary of State. The high point for primaries over the last decade was the 2010 election, where 774,071 ballots were collected.

4:08 p.m. — Montrose will count by hand: The largely Republican county has about 27,000 eligible voters, less than 1 percent of the state's total. Results there could be delayed until Thursday or Friday.

A printing error made ballots unreadable by Montrose County’s vote tabulating machines.

The county's announcement said ballots will be counted in batches of 25 by a three-person bipartisan team. County election staff and staff from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office will participate.

CPR reporters Michael Sakas, Sam Brasch, Ann Marie Awad, Allison Sherry, Grace Hood, Jim Hill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.