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By Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times

DENVER — Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper defied a Republican tide and won a second term as votes from liberal bastions of the state helped propel him over Republican challenger Bob Beauprez.

With late votes tallied Wednesday in the Democratic strongholds of Denver and Boulder, Hickenlooper, a former brewery owner turned Denver mayor and then governor, was able to put together enough support to outlast his adversary after a bitter contest.

With 53 of 64 counties reporting, Hickenlooper led Beauprez 48 percent to 47 percent _ a margin of fewer than 23,000 votes out of nearly 1.9 million cast in Colorado’s first all-mail election Tuesday.

Beauprez, who lost a 2006 bid for governor by double digits, relentlessly castigated Hickenlooper’s leadership style, citing his sometimes wavering positions of new gun-control measures in the state and his decision to grant a temporary reprieve to a convicted murderer on death row.

By contrast, Hickenlooper, in a rare move for any politician, eschewed using negative advertising in his campaign, instead focusing heavily on the state’s economic vitality.

“He’s always been this Chamber of Commerce, very business-friendly Democrat and never truly a hard-liner on the left,” said Tom Cronin, a professor of political science at Colorado College.

The Republican effort nationwide to cast Democrats as staunch allies of an unpopular President Barack Obama, as Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner did in his victory Tuesday over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, never took hold in the governor’s race.

“It’s tough to make that sell that this governor is somehow beholden to the president, which at the federal level was a clear winning message,” Cronin said.

While Udall was unable to claim victory in key suburban Denver swing counties, Hickenlooper gained his edge against Beauprez in those areas.

In addition to winning Colorado’s U.S. Senate race on Tuesday, the state’s Republicans also claimed victories in races for secretary of state and treasurer.

Photo via World Economic Forum via Flickr

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