If they were able to sleep, both U.S. Senate candidates woke up Wednesday morning with votes still being tallied in a back-and-forth contest.
Just after 10 a.m., the race was called, proclaiming the Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet the victor over Republican Ken Buck. The race was tight, with Bennet bringing in 47.7 percent of the vote over Buckâ€™s 46.8 percent, a difference of about 15,400 votes.
â€œThis election and our campaign was never about sending some sort of political message,â€ Bennet told supporters during his acceptance speech Wednesday. â€œIt was about rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work to rebuild our state and our country.â€
Bennet stood in front of Denverâ€™s City Park, surrounded by supporters along with Democrats Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper, current Gov. Bill Ritter and Sen. Mark Udall. He spoke with his wife at his side and his three young daughters poking their heads out from behind the podium.
Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2008 when he replaced Ken Salazar, who is now secretary of interior under President Barack Obama. Prior to that, Bennet was the superintendant for Denver Public Schools. His first campaign for office was in a tough environment for Democrats, credited mainly to a stifling economy.
Many were anticipating a Republican wave, and in many parts of the country it was. Both candidates campaigned relentlessly all across the state knowing this race was going to be the one of the closest in the country.
â€œThis close of a race should tell students the importance of voting,â€ said William Denton, a senior sociology major at Colorado State University. â€œThe Republican resurgence across the nation helps the balance of power in Washington.â€
Challenger Ken Buck, who currently serves as the district attorney for Weld County, was a Tea Party favorite who outlasted former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the primaries.
He was one of many Tea Party-backed Senate candidates in the country who failed to surpass their respective Democratic opponents, along with Christine Oâ€™Donnell of Delaware and Sharron Angel of Nevada.
Bennet was assured a non-automatic recount victory. Buckâ€™s camp was not commenting to the media and did not respond to the Collegian.
Bennet claims he will return to Washington to put aside partisan politics and work with the other side of the aisle to propose â€œcommon-senseâ€ ideas to solve our countryâ€™s difficult issues.
â€œYesterday, Colorado chose to move our state and this country forward.â€ Bennet said. â€œI will do everything I can to live up to the confidence you have placed in me.â€
Staff writer Chadwick Bowman can be reached at email@example.com.