DENVER -- Bob Beauprez appears to be headed to victory over Tom Tancredo, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp with close to 250,000 votes counted in Colorado's gubernatorial primary.
Beauprez had taken 30 percent of the vote. Tancredo had 26 percent, followed by Gessler at 23 percent and Kopp at 19 percent.
Tancredo, after manning the grill at his election night party in Lakewood, called Beauprez to offer his congratulations and support around 7:45 p.m., shortly after FOX31 Denver and other news outlets called the race.
It amounts to a big victory for Colorado's GOP establishment, which will have dodged the bullet of being stuck with Tancredo as the party's nominee to take on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in November.
If Beauprez claims victory tonight, it's largely because of money -- he loaned his campaign more than he raised -- and because his biggest opponent, Tancredo, couldn't be bothered to mount much of a campaign, refusing to debate and spending little on paid media.
Beauprez, who entered the race late, spent the most money on paid advertising -- TV spots from his campaign and an outside group backing him blanketed the airwaves in the primary's final week.
Tancredo, on the other hand, raised the most money but spent almost none of it on TV ads, relying on a large ad buy by Democrats, who ran a pair of ads aimed at pushing conservative primary voters away from Beauprez and toward Tancredo, who many believe can't win a statewide race.
Most of Tancredo's money appears to have gone to paid consultants.
The former congressmen thought being Tom Tancredo might be enough to win a four-way race; his tactical move pushing his supporters to help Mike Kopp make the primary ballot at the state convention in April was a masterstroke -- and it almost worked out.
The Democratic ads aimed at propelling him to victory may have backfired, as Beauprez and the group Republicans Who Want to Win, formed to back his campaign, went into overdrive in an effort to explain what was actually happening to the primary electorate.