While addressing supporters following his victory over Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt Tuesday, Bob Gardner did something he does not usually do.
He choked up.
"This campaign has been about what we said from the very beginning: It's been about effective conservative leadership - about leadership that is conservative and represents everyone in a thoughtful way for the good of Colorado," Gardner said after taking a drink to regain composure. It's been about all of you - every one of you."
Gardner, who served in the House from 2007 to 2014, beat Klingenschmitt, who this year finished his first term in the House, in the primary for the state Senate District 12 seat vacated by term-limited Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs.
Gardner earned 62.08 percent of the vote, or 7,936 over Klingenschmitt's 4,847, according to unofficial results as of 10 p.m.
Joyous squeals erupted from Gardner supporters in a room above Sonterra Grill when the first round of results were released from the Colorado Secretary of State's office just after 7:05 p.m.
"I know he's going to be a great advocate for El Paso County once he gets up into the Statehouse again," said El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, who was at the viewing party Tuesday.
East of downtown at The Airplane Restaurant, Klingenschmitt's speech took on a religious tone.
"I work hard to establish God's kingdom, not my own, and, as you know, God's will is not always done in this world," Klingenschmitt told dozens of supporters beneath model airliners hanging from the ceiling.
Retta Blodgett, who volunteered for Klingenschmitt's campaign, was disheartened by the results.
"I'm disappointed because the kind of competition his opponent ran was a dirty campaign," she said. "The fact that he (Klingenschmitt) could go into the government and take a stance and not worry about what people thought - that's what conservatives need now to get our country back."
Klingenschmitt fielded handshakes and pats on the back from throngs of supporters encouraging him to keep faith.
"I thank God for the opportunity to run a clean race on my side, even if that was not reciprocated," he said in an interview. "I'm disappointed that people can lie, steal and cheat and violate their cadet honor oath and still win elections. I kept my cadet honor oath, and I ran with integrity, and I hold my head high."
Klingenschmitt, was referring to anonymous attack ads mailed to voters from an advocacy group that Klingenschmitt has asked the District Attorney's Office to investigate.
During the race, Gardner and his supporters bashed Klingenschmitt as too far on the conservative end of the political spectrum work with Democrats.
Klingenschmitt has sponsored one bill that has become law, which requires the state's Department of Education to study alternative tests to mandatory state assessments - a legislative record that pales in comparison to Gardner, who sponsored multiple bills to protect victims of crime, first responders and people with disabilities.
"Bob is a conservative who knows how to reach across the aisle and work with others to get things accomplished," said Tony Gioia, a Realtor and small business owner that volunteered for the Gardner campaign, who attended Tuesday's party. "He's someone who is going to represent us well without making crazy comments."
Klingenschmitt has come under fire for some of his statements as televangelist for his nonprofit Pray in Jesus Name Ministries, including saying transgender people are motivated by "a demonic spirit of lying" in a sermon broadcast in June.
An ad against Klingenschmitt, paid for by LGBT advocacy organization One Colorado, appeared on Facebook this weekend targeting Senate District 12 voters. The ad, which showed Klingenschmitt with dollar signs instead of eyes, said "Gordon ChaChingen$schmitt: Making money off HATE."
Although a Gazette review of Klingenschmitt's taxes and financial records showed he is not paid a salary or any other type of compensation by his charity, One Colorado Political Director Laura Reinsch said the ad aimed to illustrate that his nonprofit is funded by vitriolic speech against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"We wanted to make sure voters in District 12 know what his stance is," Reinsch said. "He's spent a lot of time attacking LGBT people, rather than fighting for the interest of Colorado Springs."
Gardner said he will focus on Medicaid reform and maintaining Republican control of the Senate.
"My priorities as a Senator will be the same as they were in the Statehouse: to ensure that Colorado has the best possible business climate for a robust economy and the creation of jobs," he said. "Without that, we don't have the resources we need for transportation, education and central services."
Jeff Hayes, chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party, visited Gardner's party while making rounds to thank area GOP candidates for running.
"It was an interesting contest to watch from afar," Hayes said. "Got a little angry, got a little negative at times, you hate to see that, but politics is not necessarily a polite business at all times."
Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108