Salazar beating Coors in Colorado
Democrats projected to pick up Campbell's Senate seat
(CNN) -- Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar will defeat Republican Pete Coors, the chairman of Coors Brewing Company, in Colorado's Senate race, CNN projects.
Salazar will replace Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who did not seek re-election. Campbell switched from Democrat to Republican in 1995.
The race became one of the hottest in the country -- with Coors gaining on Salazar to pull virtually even in the final weeks of the campaign, according to a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll. International media outlets, including the BBC and Japanese networks, followed the candidates down the stretch.
"The last time I remember this intense coverage of Colorado politics was when Gary Hart was running for president in 1984," Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli told the Rocky Mountain News.
Salazar, 49, a San Luis Valley native and a graduate of University of Michigan Law School, was chief counsel to former Gov. Roy Romer and served as state attorney general since 1999. The Denver-born Coors, 56, took an unpaid leave of absence from his role at Coors Brewing to run for office.
Both candidates supported the conflict in Iraq, tax relief and a ban on same-sex marriage, yet still managed to disagree on nuances of each of those issues.
Salazar held that the President mishandled the mission in Iraq, and while disagreeing with the idea of gay marriage, said he believed a constitutional amendment went too far -- that enforcement should be left up to the states. Salazar criticized the Bush tax cuts as not doing enough to help the middle class.
Coors supported President Bush's handling of the war, the gay marriage ban and tax cuts.
The candidates also sharply disagreed on stem cell research, with Coors against it and Salazar in favor.
Salazar said during the campaign that the two biggest issues in this election were the financial squeeze on America's middle class, along with homeland security and protection against terrorism.
Coors consistently hit the economy and jobs, as well as homeland security and national defense as the key issues that he thought the nation faced.