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Colo., Nev. & Conn. Pick House Candidates

Voters in Colorado, Nevada and Connecticut have chosen candidates for the fall election, including a Republican hoping to succeed Rep. Tom Tancredo and a Democrat who will face-off against Rep. Chris Shays.

Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman won his GOP congressional primary Tuesday, putting him in pole position to inherit the seat being vacated by Tancredo, the five-term congressman whose forceful opposition to illegal immigration vaulted him to national prominence.

Tancredo's district is heavily Republican and Coffman, who won a four-way race for the nomination, was favored to defeat Democrat Hank Eng in November's general election.

Coffman said there are others in Congress who can continue Tancredo's fight against illegal immigration but that "I think the economy is my top issue."

Tancredo built a long-shot presidential campaign on opposition to illegal immigration but abandoned the White House bid in December after consistently polling at the bottom of the Republican field.

In other Colorado congressional primaries, incumbent GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn defeated challenger Jeff Crank, while Democrat Jared Polis beat former state Senate president Joan Fitz-Gerald in a race to replace Rep. Mark Udall, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat.

In Nevada, three incumbent congressmen and two top Democratic challengers coasted to easy victories Tuesday.

In the congressional district encompassing urban Las Vegas, five-term Democrat Shelley Berkley easily advanced to the general election.

Republican Kenneth Wegner, a disabled veteran, won the chance for a rematch against Berkley in November after winning just 31 percent of the vote in 2006. This time he had about 35 percent of the vote.

GOP Rep. Jon Porter beat back token opposition from within his own party in his quest for a fourth term representing a sprawling suburban Las Vegas district that is expected to be among the most hotly contested battlegrounds in the nation in November.

Porter's opponent will be Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus, a well-known college professor and failed gubernatorial candidate. She had 85 percent of the final vote.

In northern Nevada, Rep. Dean Heller won the GOP nomination for a second term with solid party support.

His Democratic opponent, former state party chairwoman and university regent Jill Derby, was unopposed in her primary race. She lost to him two years ago, but showed surprising strength in historically Republican territory.

Elsewhere in Nevada, two judges in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, lost re-election bids amid allegations of wrongdoing pending before the state Commission on Judicial Discipline.

District Court Judge Elizabeth Halverson - who allegedly created a hostile work environment, fell asleep on the bench, improperly communicated with jurors and mishandled trials - saw her re-election hopes dashed in a lopsided defeat.

Family Court Judge Nicholas Del Vecchio also lost. He is accused of sexually abusing a woman when she was a minor, sexually harassing her as an adult, and making racially and sexually disparaging comments to court employees.

Also in Nevada, Nye County District Attorney Robert Beckett, who crashed two cars on a desert highway in California in June, lost his bid to unseat six-term incumbent judge.

In Connecticut, former banker Jim Himes defeated substitute teacher Lee Whitnum for the Democratic nomination to take on Shays in the fall.

Himes, the vice president of an affordable housing organization, was the party's preferred candidate. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, he had 87 percent of the vote.

Himes has already raised a significant amount of money to face Shays, whose support for the Iraq war nearly cost him re-election in 2006. He was the only House Republican from New England to keep his seat as Democrats swept to power.