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Politics

John Hickenlooper wins Colorado primary for key U.S. Senate seat

U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper overcame a rocky month to defeat Andrew Romanoff in a Democratic primary Tuesday night, setting the stage for a November faceoff with Sen. Cory Gardner.

As of 7:35 p.m., Hickenlooper had 427,175 votes, or 60% of the total. Romanoff had accumulated 286,784 votes, 40%.

Hickenlooper has been the front-runner since he entered the race in August, following an unsuccessful presidential run. He dominated the fundraising contest, pulled in endorsements from top Democrats across the country, and consistently led in the polls during his 10-month primary campaign.

Tuesday’s victory is a win for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Party’s establishment, which convinced a reluctant Hickenlooper to run for the Senate seat, believing him to a be a safe bet to beat Gardner.

But Hickenlooper enters the four-month general election campaign bruised by a brutal June, which began with him defying a subpoena. He was then held in contempt by the Independent Ethics Commission, found in violation of ethics laws, and faced a constant stream of headlines about racial gaffes dating back years.

Romanoff, a former Colorado House speaker and Mental Health Colorado president, was the favorite of progressives and grassroots activists due to his support for the Green New Deal climate plan and Medicare for All.

Hickenlooper begins the general election campaign with an edge over Gardner, a freshman senator from Yuma, due to the state’s recent Democratic tilt and the unpopularity of President Donald Trump here. On Monday, Trump reiterated his support for Gardner, whom he rallied with in Colorado Springs earlier this year.

“Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado is a GREAT Senator who always fights for the people of his state. He protects your (2nd Amendment), loves our Vets and Military, and cares deeply about our BEAUTIFUL public lands,” Trump tweeted. “Cory has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

Voter turnout in the Democratic primary race Tuesday broke a state record for nonpresidential primaries. Theories for why include the coronavirus pandemic, the intense political atmosphere, and recent voter registration increases.

About 20 Democrats ran for U.S. Senate in the 2020 race, but many bowed out after Hickenlooper entered in August. Eight remained until the spring, when only the moderate Hickenlooper and the progressive Romanoff made their way onto the ballot. An eleventh-hour court challenge to add other candidates who blamed the coronavirus pandemic for signature-gathering difficulties was rejected.

The head-to-head bout between Hickenlooper and Romanoff started quietly, with Hickenlooper the presumptive leader, then tightened throughout June as Hickenlooper stumbled over ethics travails and racial gaffes. Still, the scant polling in the race showed Hickenlooper likely leading up to Election Day.

It was also in the final month that the race turned costly. Television ads worth more than $10 million saturated the airwaves, most of them either attacking Hickenlooper or defending him, and most of them funded by partisan groups outside Colorado. Hickenlooper kept his ads positive, and his allies criticized Romanoff for releasing an attack ad in the middle of the month.

The two candidates prioritized a similar trio of issues — health care, climate, and the economy — but laid out differing plans for dealing with them. Hickenlooper often cited his past record as governor and Denver’s mayor, while Romanoff more often focused on aspirational and ambitious plans for the future.

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World News

Malawi opposition leader wins historic poll rerun

Malawi’s opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera has won the country’s rerun presidential vote, officials say.

He defeated incumbent Peter Mutharika with 58.57% of the vote in Tuesday’s poll, the electoral commission announced late on Saturday.

In February, Malawi’s constitutional court annulled Mr Mutharika’s victory in the May 2019 election, citing vote tampering.

The country was bitterly divided in the run-up to this week’s election.

It is the second African nation to annul a presidential election over irregularities, after Kenya in 2017.

Following the official result on Saturday, Mr Chakwera said his victory was “a win for democracy and justice,” adding: “My heart is bubbling with joy.”

His supporters took to the streets of the Malawian capital, Lilongwe, sounding car horns and letting off fireworks.

Malawi’s new leader will look to heal the nation

By Will Ross, BBC News

This is a hugely significant moment in Malawi’s political history, and is evidence that neither the courts nor the electorate were prepared to be bullied or influenced by presidential power.

Other countries in Africa have had elections annulled – it happened in Kenya a few years ago – but for the opposition candidate to then go on and win a rerun is unprecedented.

Peter Mutharika’s narrow victory in last year’s poll was cancelled by the Constitutional Court after evidence emerged that correction fluid had been used to alter the vote tallies. He then turned to the Supreme Court for help. Judges there came under a lot of pressure but stood firm. And now the majority of Malawian voters have rejected him.

Mr Mutharika is now crying foul and may mount a legal challenge, but the people of Malawi have chosen Lazarus Chakwera as their next president. The Pentecostal preacher and former theology lecturer will first have to heal a nation that’s been through many months of political turmoil.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s results, Mr Mutharika said that while he found the election “unacceptable”, it was his “sincere hope that we should take this country forward instead of backwards”.

Why was there a new vote?

A rerun of the 2019 election was ordered after the Constitutional Court found the original ballot had been marred by widespread irregularities.

That election saw President Mutharika narrowly re-elected by fewer than 159,000 votes.

Mr Chakwera, who came second in that election, argued that tallying forms had been added up incorrectly and tampered with.

First electionon 21 May 2019

Mutharikasworn in on 27 May 2019

Thousands proteston 20 June 2019, complaining of fraud

Constitutional courtoverturns result on 3 February 2020 and orders re-run

Court rejectsMutharika's appeal on 8 May 2020

Uncertainty around the result sparked months of tension, which spilled over into clashes between opposition supporters and police.

February’s annulment led some to celebrate, but Mr Mutharika described it as a “serious subversion of justice” which marked the death of the country’s democracy.

There were concerns over the logistics and safety of carrying out an election in the midst of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Who is Lazarus Chakwera ?

The opposition leader, a former cleric, heads up the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Born in Lilongwe to a subsistence farmer, the philosophy and theology graduate has pledged to raise the national minimum wage, among other reforms.

Candidate for the Tonse Alliance

Born 5 April 1955

Studied theology in Malawi, South Africa and USA

Pastor and lecturer worked at the Assemblies of God School of Theology

Authored several books on religion including Reach the Nations

Ran for president in 2014 and came second

Mr Chakwera leads a nine-party coalition, the Tonse Alliance, and had the backing of former President Joyce Banda as well as the country’s vice-president, Saulos Chilima, as his running mate.

Mr Chilima – who finished third in the 2019 vote – was once an ally of President Mutharika, but has since fallen out with him.

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