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Owen Hill ends U.S. Senate campaign, sort of backs Gardner

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State Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, has ended his campaign for U.S. Senate.

DENVER — State Sen. Owen Hill, the only serious Republican U.S. Senate candidate who didn’t quickly step aside after Congressman Cory Gardner launched his own Senate campaign late last month, quietly ended his campaign Monday night.

Hill, R-Colorado Springs, made the announcement in a post on his Facebook page late Monday night.

On Tuesday morning, he sent an email to his campaign supporters.

“We began this campaign nine months ago when we saw that there was not a strong voice for liberty working to confront Sen. Udall and highlight how his liberal policies are hurting poor and working class Americans,” Hill wrote.

“But in recent weeks, it has become clear that in order for Republicans to defeat our failed Democrat Sen. Mark Udall, we must avoid a contentious primary election, in order to emerge with a nominee that is not bruised and battered heading into the General election in November. This is a mistake repeated year after year in Colorado and one I won’t allow to be repeated again.”

Oddly, Hill stopped short of endorsing Gardner, who will certainly be the GOP’s U.S. Senate nominee, out of deference to the other remaining Republican Senate hopeful, state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who officially remains in the race but has raised only a few thousand dollars in support of a quixotic million-to-one Senate shot.

“My full support will be behind the Party’s nominee chosen at the State Assembly in April,” Hill wrote. “While I expect that Congressman Gardner will be the nominee, state Senator Randy Baumgardner is a friend and colleague in the Senate and I will wait to endorse until Randy decides what he will do.”

It’s a fast reversal for Hill, 31, who harshly criticized Gardner for orchestrating a back-room deal to clear the Senate field for himself and, until now, refused to play along.

“Cory came to me two weeks ago and tried to get me out of this race,” Hill said on the day Gardner shook up the race with his announcement.

“I’m staying in because these backroom deals are what people hate about politics these days. I’m staying in to take back this senate seat not for the party bosses but for the people.”

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call, who’s struggled at times to get his party to unify behind a single candidate, thanked Hill for his decision in a statement released Tuesday morning.

“I want to thank Sen. Hill for doing what he believed was necessary to help unite our Party and work together to defeat Mark Udall in November.

“Owen is a rising star in the Republican Party with a strong record of fighting for the people he represents,” Call said. “While Owen isn’t running for the U.S. Senate this year, one thing remains certain: a man who can put the conservative cause he believes in ahead of self-interest has a bright future ahead within our Party.”

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