- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

DENVER (AP) - A national tea party group endorsed state Sen. Owen Hill on Monday and began airing ads supporting the young lawmaker in the crowded Republican primary to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

Tea Party Express notably passed over the man it endorsed in its prior foray into a Colorado Republican Senate primary, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck.

Buck narrowly lost to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010 and is considered the front-runner in the primary to challenge Udall, but some Republicans worry that Buck alienated suburban women in his previous Senate race and are searching for an alternative.

Amy Kramer, chairman of Tea Party Express, called Buck “a good conservative” Monday but added that the group believes Hill, 31, “is the one who can win this race.”

The group also began airing an ad introducing Hill to voters, saying it is “time to start the Senate race with a clean canvas.” It describes Hill as an Air Force Academy graduate and “conservative proven winner for Colorado.”

The group is spending $100,000 on the ad over the next two weeks, according to federal documents.

Also in the race for the Republican nomination are state Rep. Amy Stephens, state Sen. Randy Baumgardner and businessman Jaime McMillan.

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