Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar defeated Republican business executive and first-time candidate Pete Coors, chairman of Coors Brewing, for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Salazar drew on his strong support among the state's Hispanic voters and his roots in rural Colorado, taking 51 percent of the vote to Coors's 47 percent.
Salazar, who led in the polls through most of the race, was victorious even though Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state by 180,000. Salazar's brother John, a one-term state legislator, won by almost the same margin against Republican Greg Walcher for the western Colorado congressional seat of retiring Rep. Scott McInnis, a Republican. The Colorado House delegation now has four Republicans and three Democrats.
Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez held on to his 7th Congressional District seat by 55 percent to 42 percent over Democratic challenger Dave Thomas, a district attorney. Beauprez won one of the closest contests in the nation two years ago.
Although Democrats had hoped Kerry could make the state into a battleground, Bush won by 53 percent to 46 percent, even though the Democrats picked up a seat in the Senate and another in the House. A ballot initiative that would have allocated Colorado's nine electoral votes proportionally was soundly defeated.
Democratic rancher Brian Schweitzer convincingly defeated Secretary of State Bob Brown to replace retiring Gov. Judy Martz, a Republican. Schweitzer, a third-generation rancher who used to grow peppermint, won by 50 percent to 46 percent despite an overwhelming victory in the state by Bush, who won by 59 percent to 38 percent.
Schweitzer has called for opening the border to allow consumers to bring in cheaper Canadian prescription drugs and boasted on his Web site that he had led a bus tour of seniors to Canada in 1999 to buy cheaper medicine. He selected a Republican, state Sen. John Bohlinger, as his running mate for lieutenant governor.
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) was reelected with 64 percent of the vote. Rehberg, a rancher from Billings, served in the Montana House for three terms and was lieutenant governor for five years.
Voters approved a referendum to allow the medical use of marijuana by 62 percent to 38 percent and an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and woman.
Democratic Sen. Harry M. Reid faced a weak campaign by Republican anti-gay activist Richard Ziser and won with more than 60 percent of the vote. Reid won narrowly six years ago, but an influx of newcomers has turned the state from a Republican stronghold to a battleground.
Bush won the state by 50.5 percent to 48 percent.
Voters approved a referendum to increase the minimum wage and one to limit damages and attorneys' fees in medical malpractice cases. They defeated a proposal to amend the state constitution to penalize lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits.
Republican Jon Huntsman Jr., a former ambassador to Singapore, soundly defeated Scott Matheson Jr., a Democrat who is dean of a Utah law school and son of a former governor. Huntsman will be the third governor in little more than a year. Mike Leavitt (R) left the post to head the Environmental Protection Agency and was succeeded by the lieutenant governor, Olene S. Walker, but she lost a primary challenge by Huntsman.
Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, brother of Scott, defeated Republican John Swallow in a rematch of 2002, despite Bush's win by 71 percent to 27 percent over Kerry in the state. Matheson, who had been targeted by the national Republican Party and redistricted into a more conservative area, won easily anyway.
Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R) won a third term with almost 70 percent of the vote, and by almost the same proportion, voters approved amending the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman and to ban civil unions.
Republican Sen. Michael D. Crapo was unopposed for reelection because Democrats missed a filing deadline. Bush carried the state with 68 percent of the vote, and the two Republican congressmen won by slightly larger percentages.
Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin, the sole House member, coasted to victory in a state where Bush defeated Kerry by 69 percent to 29 percent. Cubin, who defeated Democrat Ted Ladd by 55 percent to 42 percent, has been chairwoman of the House Resources subcommittee on energy and mineral resources and a vocal proponent of increased domestic energy production, especially in the West.
Wyoming voters narrowly defeated a referendum that would have imposed caps on awards and attorneys' fees in medical malpractice cases. The issue was one that native son Vice President Cheney has spoken about often, saying that medical malpractice is driving doctors from the state.