Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in one of the country's most competitive Senate contests Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
Udall, first elected to the Senate in 2008, had been considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, dragged down by his attacks on Gardner and by President Barack Obama's unpopularity. Udall's campaign attempted to paint Gardner as inhospitable to abortion and contraceptive access. But Gardner said he supported making birth control available over the counter and disavowed his previous support for a fetal personhood law.
Polls showed the race tight through the early months. But in recent weeks, Gardner built a significant lead, only to see Udall fight his way back in the latest polls. A Monday Quinnipiac poll showed Gardner leading 45 percent to 43 percent.
The Denver Post, Colorado's biggest newspaper, endorsed Gardner on Oct. 10 in a major blow to Udall's campaign. The endorsement claimed Udall lacked leadership and dismissed his campaign's focus on women's issues, saying Udall "has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives."
Gardner made headlines earlier in the campaign, when he said "there is no federal personhood bill," although he is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act. Personhood bills, which would grant full legal rights to fetuses from the moment of fertilization, may lead to a ban on abortion and some common forms of birth control, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Gardner has more recently voiced support for allowing adults to buy birth control without a prescription. He disavowed his support for state-level personhood legislation. His campaign said his co-sponsorship of the Life at Conception Act is symbolic, merely to say life begins at conception.
Udall's critics nicknamed him "Mark Uterus" because of his focus on contraception and abortion on the campaign trail. Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels wrote that if the Udall-Gardner race were a movie, it would be set in a "gynecologist's office."
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