- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 3, 2010

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet declared victory Wednesday in his tight race against tea party Republican Ken Buck, suggesting that Democrats may be able to hold onto a Senate seat once viewed a prime opportunity for the GOP to make gains.

In a Facebook posting Wednesday morning, Mr. Bennet says, “Thank you to everyone who made this victory possible.”

Mr. Bennet was clinging to a narrow lead over Mr. Buck. With 88 percent of the projected vote counted, Mr. Buck is trailing by about 7,500 votes out of 1.4 million cast.

Mr. Buck didn’t immediately concede the race.

“We are still looking where returns need to be reported, as well as provisional ballots before making any decisions,” Mr. Buck said in a posting on his Facebook page.

There was no immediate word from either camp on when the candidates would talk to voters in person Wednesday.

Mr. Bennet, 45, was appointed to the seat last year to replace Ken Salazar, who became Interior Secretary. Before his appointment, Mr. Bennet was superintendent of Denver Public Schools and had never run for public office.

Democrats retained control of the Senate Tuesday, though they lost at least six seats to the GOP. Senate races in Washington state and Alaska were too close to call Wednesday.

During the Colorado campaign, Mr. Bennet painted Mr. Buck as too conservative, especially on social issues. Mr. Buck opposes abortion rights, even in cases of rape and incest, and considers sexual orientation a choice.

Mr. Bennet and the Democrats pounded Mr. Buck with attack ads calling him “too extreme for Colorado.”

The race attracted more out-of-state campaign money than any other Senate contest this year.

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