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Michael Bennet and Jared Polis secure wins in Colorado

Bennet, who cites his mother’s Holocaust experience as a key influence on his outlook, faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from a moderate Republican

(JTA) — Michael Bennet, the Democratic Colorado senator who cites his mother’s Holocaust experience as a key influence on his outlook, beat back a challenge from a moderate Republican.

Bennet is among four Democrats with Jewish heritage running in statewide elections in the state. Jared Polis, the state’s first Jewish and openly gay Democratic governor, also cruised to reelection Tuesday night.

Two other Jewish Democratic incumbents, Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, were leading late Tuesday, but their races were too early to call.

Bennet is a moderate first elected in 2008 who briefly ran for president in 2020. He does not publicly say if he identifies as Jewish but says that his mother’s experience as a refugee has profoundly affected him — particularly around the time that the Trump administration separated children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Joe O’Dea, the Republican who challenged Bennet, was a rarity: A Republican who disavowed Trump and said he would work with Democrats in the Senate. His calculus was that Colorado is a swing state, although Republicans have nominated far-right candidates in a number of other statewide races in the West, including in Nevada and Arizona.

Another closely watched Colorado race is in its 3rd congressional district, where Lauren Boebert, an extremist Republican who has compared the Holocaust to coronavirus restrictions, is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from Adam Frisch, a Jewish Democrat. The race has yet to be called, but Frisch was leading Boebert — seen as a shoo-in in a red district — by 4 points with 69% of the vote counted.

This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

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