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Coors Among Winners in Primaries for U.S. Senate

August 11, 2004|From Associated Press

DENVER — Brewery heir Peter Coors won a bruising Republican primary for Colorado's open Senate seat Tuesday, beating a conservative former congressman to set up a high-stakes showdown with the Democratic attorney general this fall.

Denver voters rejected, 72% to 28%, a proposal to ban the display of wild or exotic animals at circuses.

In Georgia, first-term Rep. Denise Majette defeated a millionaire businessman to win the Democratic runoff for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Zell Miller. She became the first black candidate ever nominated to run for the U.S. Senate in Georgia.

Majette will probably be an underdog in November against GOP Rep. Johnny Isakson in a state that has tended to vote Republican in recent years.

Majette easily defeated the well-funded Cliff Oxford, a 40-year-old technology company founder who was recruited to run by former President Carter. Majette was receiving 59% of the vote to 41% for Oxford.

"I'm just very honored that the people of Georgia are giving me the opportunity to run this next phase of the race," Majette said. "We've worked very hard. That hard work is paying off."

Coors was defeating former Rep. Bob Schaffer 61% to 39%.

On the Democratic side, Atty. Gen. Ken Salazar was receiving 74% of the votes to 26% for educator Mike Miles.

The winner in November will take the seat currently held by retiring GOP Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

Democrats think the race represents a golden opportunity to gain a seat in the Senate, which the Republicans control by a slim margin. National Democrats are hoping Salazar will attract Latinos to the polls, possibly giving presidential candidate John F. Kerry a boost in the state in November.

The fireworks in the race were on the Republican side, where conservatives loyal to Schaffer funded ads ridiculing Coors' support of a lower drinking age. They also tried to link him to homosexual causes, an apparent reference to the fact that Coors Brewing Co. extended benefits to same-sex partners of its workers and promoted its beer in gay bars while Coors was an executive at his family's company.

Coors said he supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and he fought back by accusing Schaffer of padding his business experience on his resume.

Coors contends lowering the drinking age would teach responsibility at a younger age.

Political experts say the race could be among the most expensive in Colorado history, with the two major parties expected to spend about $6 million each.

Majette, 49, gained national attention two years ago when she ousted the fiery 10-year Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Georgia's first black congresswoman. Majette's decision to pursue the Senate seat helped clear the way for McKinney to seek reelection; McKinney won the Democratic nomination for her old seat three weeks ago.

Oxford said he was proud of his campaign and felt it laid the foundation for another run in the future. "We're going to look at our options, but I enjoyed this. I think we made a lot of gains," he said.

Majette and Oxford were forced into the runoff after failing to get more than 50% of the vote in the primary last month. Isakson won the GOP primary outright.

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