The Senate race generated by the retirement of Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell is being watched closely throughout the nation because it could determine control of the Senate.
Republican Pete Coors, head of the Coors brewing empire, handily won the Republican primary for Colorado's U.S. Senate seat, triggering a face-off with the state's Democratic attorney general this fall.
Coors, the great-grandson of beer baron Adolph Coors, beat former Rep. Bob Schaffer.
Coors has been endorsed by several key Republicans, including the retiring Campbell and his friend and longtime supporter Gov. Bill Owens, who had earlier thrown his support to the more conservative Schaffer.
On the Democratic side, Attorney General Ken Salazar beat educator Mike Miles. Salazar, who toured the state with a cowboy hat and a populist message, said his victory proves he has statewide support.
Democrats believe the race represents a golden opportunity to gain the seat currently held by Campbell; Republicans control the Senate by a slim margin. National Democrats are hoping Salazar will attract Hispanics to the polls, possibly giving presidential candidate John Kerry a boost in November.
Campbell, who would be up for a third term, had been plagued by health problems and a longtime aide has been accused of taking kickbacks. Campbell had been considered a difficult incumbent to oust and Democrats have had trouble finding a big-name candidate to challenge him, but his announcement threw the Senate race wide open.
Republican Congressman Scott McInnis is not seeking another term to his 3rd district House seat, which he has held since 1992. In 2003, McInnis announced he was tired of Washington and wanted to return to Colorado. In 2004, he announced he would join a Denver law firm when he leaves Congress, and promised not to force a special election when he leaves.
John Salazar, the attorney general's older brother, will be the Democrat seeking the seat. He had no primary opposition. He is running against the former state natural resources chief Greg Walcher, who was declared the winner more than two weeks after the election. Walcher's race with state Rep. Matt Smith was too close to call. After some delay, Smith conceded. Democrats hope to recapture the seat for the first time since 1990.
In the 2002 elections, Republican incumbent Senator Wayne Allard defeated Democrat Tom Strickland in a rematch of their 1996 match-up that Allard also won.
Also in 2002, Republican Governor Bill Owens was re-elected to a second term, defeating Democrat Rollie Heath, a Boulder businessman.
In each of the past two years, the state has been forced to cut $1 billion because of shortfalls in revenue and constitutional requirements that bar them from raising taxes without a statewide vote.
Some politicians say Colorado's economy has started to show signs of improvement. State revenues for 2003 were nearly $78 million higher than anticipated. Business taxes are considered the reason for the increase and the state's economists warn that while business profits are improving, it is because of cost-cutting, rather than increased demand. Colorado went from being the second-best unemployment in the nation in January 2001 to 34th.