Salazar wins tussle for open Colorado seat
Colorado 3rd Congressional District goes Democratic
(CNN) -- Democratic state Rep. John Salazar will win his tight battle for retiring Rep. Scott McInnis' open seat in Colorado, CNN projects.
Salazar will defeat Republican Greg Walcher, a former executive director of Colorado's Department of Natural Resources.
National parties and interest groups contributed more than $3.5 million to what was seen as one of the most up-for-grabs seats in the House, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
The tight race took an interesting turn late in October when the Rocky Mountain News reported that past employees of the Division of Wildlife had joined together to endorse Salazar and "to defeat someone they have known for years -- Greg Walcher."
The Walcher campaign responded by pointing out that the candidate's natural resource and water policies had been endorsed by such prominent Republicans as McInnis and Sen. Wayne Allard.
Then, Walcher went on the attack with an ad that accused Salazar of being weak on illegal immigration. While Salazar acknowledged voting against a state bill that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition status, his campaign said he did not support amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Walcher, who was a member of Republican Sen. Bill Armstrong's staff for more than 10 years, supported making President Bush's tax cuts permanent and talked about wanting to simplify the tax code. He also was aligned with Bush on the war in Iraq and favored eliminating the estate tax.
Salazar, a farmer and rancher from the San Luis Valley -- and brother of Colorado attorney general and Democratic party senate candidate Ken Salazar -- is owner and past president/CEO of Spudseed.com, an Internet-based company that markets potatoes. He also served on the board of directors of the Monte Vista Production Credit Union and on the board of Agro Engineering, Inc.
In addition to his one term in the state Legislature, Salazar's prior public service included stints on the Governor's Economic Development Advisory Board, the State Agricultural Commission, the board of directors of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, and the board of directors of the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Forum.
Using the slogan "Send a Farmer to Congress," Salazar promised to be a strong voice in Congress for rural Colorado. His priorities include protecting Colorado's water, improving the state's rural economy and providing affordable access to health care.