John Salazar finally concedes to Scott Tipton in District 3 race that didn't seem all that close

A winner wasn't declared in the Michael Bennet-Ken Buck senate race until this morning due to a razor-thin margin of victory for Bennet, who's making his victory announcement at City Park moments from now.

In contrast, virtually every major news outlet in the state declared last night that Scott Tipton had bested incumbent John Salazar (brother of Ken) in the 3rd Congressional District. So why did Salazar take so long to concede?

Last night, Channel 9 reported that Tipton led Salazar 50 percent to 46 percent with 90 percent of precincts reporting -- not exactly a nail-biter. But Salazar refused to raise the white flag last night, for reasons Colorado Democratic Party head Pat Waak explained in a statement issued at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday:

"We understand that thousands of Coloradans' votes still have not been counted a day after the election. In Congressional District 3, Pueblo county votes are still being tabulated. We will work together with the Secretary of State's office to ensure Colorado voters will be heard and that every vote is counted before victory is declared in CD 3."

Within an hour or so, though, Salazar finally gave up the ghost. Here's his concession statement:

"Thank you, Colorado. Thank you for all the support you've shown me over the years.

"A little while ago, I called Scott Tipton to congratulate him on a long and hard fought victory. We face many obstacles as a nation, and to overcome them we need to put our differences behind us and move forward as one. I told Scott that my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as he begins the next phase of his journey.

"I didn't get into politics to see my name in the press. I have always shied away from the spotlight. But my parents taught all of us that you work hard and you try and make your community just a little bit better for your children.

"I am a farmer, a rancher and a businessman. We didn't have a lot growing up but our parents made sure we appreciated what we had. My father put a shovel in my hand as a young boy and he made sure I knew how to use it. On our family's ranch, I learned many of life's lessons through sweat, blood and hard work. Working the land takes tireless effort, it takes putting aside differences to get the job done, and at times, it takes a lot of courage.

"It also is where you learn to cherish the efforts of friends and the love of family. These are the lessons that my father instilled in all of us eight children, and though he is no longer with us, his love and effort can be found in every square inch of that ranch.

"And I have taken what I learned on the ranch to my career in public service. I put a premium on hard work, on fighting for others, and for protecting those who need it. I have worked with anyone who was willing to roll up their sleeves and work to solve problems. Most of all, I have been proud to get real results for the people I represent. For the last six years I have given my heart and soul to the people of the 3rd Congressional District. I have no regrets and I want to thank my constituents for the honor of representing the most beautiful district in the country.

"I have never forgotten who I am or where I came from and I am proud of the work we accomplished over the last six years. I fought to make sure the people of Colorado have clean and safe drinking water. I've fought to make sure Colorado veterans get the treatment they deserve. And I fought to make sure our farmers and ranchers have the freedom to do what they do best: put food on America's table.

"I hope that our fight to protect the ranchers of Pinon Canyon does not end here and I will continue to support them any way I can.

"This was a long campaign and so many people worked tirelessly on my behalf. I am proud of each and every one of them. They didn't back down from a fight. They stood tall in the face of adversity and they have a lot to be proud of.

"From starting work on the Arkansas Valley Conduit in Pueblo to completing work on the Animas-La Plata project in Durango we have worked to make sure that the most basic need, for clean and safe drinking water, is a reality for the 3rd Congressional District. From the veterans clinics in Craig and Glenwood Springs to the veterans cemetery in Southern Colorado and to the Fitzsimons Veterans hospital, we have fought to make sure our veterans get the treatment and respect they deserve for putting their lives on the line to defend their country.

"To each and every one of my supporters, my staff and all of our volunteers, I say thank you. Thank you for sending this farmer to Congress six years ago. Thank you for making all of our accomplishments over the past six years a reality.

"My partner in life and on this campaign, Mary Lou Salazar, has stood with me every step of the way. From that first campaign in 2004 to this one, she drove with me all over this beautiful state to meet with voters. She stood by me every step of the way, and along with my three sons, was behind everything we accomplished. To my entire family, I want to say thank you for standing with me.

"After six years of the fighting and bickering in Washington, I'm ready to spend more time with my family. I'll always be a farmer and rancher at heart. It's what I was born to do. Now it's time to pick up my shovel and go back to work."

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Ken Salazar: Democrats holding Senate might've been easier if he hadn't taken Obama's job offer."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts