Andrew Romanoff called it a "shock wave," and nobody could argue with the former Colorado House Speaker after his convincing victory Tuesday night over U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in the state's party caucuses.
But then again, perhaps that "shock wave" description might have been more appropriate for Colorado's Republicans, on a night when turnouts on both sides were far less than two years ago leading into the presidential election season of 2008.
In the GOP's first round of the campaign for the Senate nomination, heavily favored Jane Norton finds herself in a virtual dead heat with Tea Party-backed Ken Buck of Greeley after a topsy-turvy night of results. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Buck holds a slender lead of just 29 votes over Norton, 9,324 to 9.295.
That's a clear signal of grassroots dissatisfaction with Norton and party leaders who have openly supported her over Norton and former state Sen. Tom Wiens. Wiens trails in the caucus results with just more than 4,000 votes, or 16 percent.
Meanwhile, Republicans were much more united behind Scott McInnis in the GOP's race for governor. McInnis led throughout the night and has a margin of 60-39 percent over Dan Maes, who also had a Tea Party following. McInnis has 15,213 votes to Maes' 9,952.
In El Paso County, McInnis was even stronger with a 65-34 percent edge, or 1,512 to 779. Local Democrats actually favored Bennet over Romanoff, 568 to 456, with 95 uncommitted votes (which Dems allowed).
But Romanoff was much stronger around the state, particularly in his home Denver County, although that's also where Bennet previously was superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Romanoff took more than 60 percent of the Denver County vote.
Romanoff is ahead in 34 counties to 22 for Bennet, with a handful (including Pueblo) still not reporting any results and several others either tied or uncommitted. Romanoff's statewide lead is about 51-42 percent, or 10.971 to 8,998.