Republicans picked off a Democratic House incumbent in northern Colorado Tuesday, while Democrats held onto at least once seat strongly contested by the GOP.

In the Second Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, defended his seat with ease.

However, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey was defeated by Republican state Rep. Cory Gardner in the sprawling 4th Congressional District that includes much of northern and eastern Colorado. With 93 percent of the projected vote counted, Gardner led Markey 53-41 percent.

Markey, a freshman, was considered among the most vulnerable House Democrats. The 4th Congressional District has more registered Republicans than Democrats, and the GOP had held the seat for more than three decades when Markey won in 2008.

Cory Gardner, with his wife Jaime and daughter Alyson, announces that he is the new representative to Congress in Colorado’s 4th District at a
Cory Gardner, with his wife Jaime and daughter Alyson, announces that he is the new representative to Congress in Colorado's 4th District at a Republican reception in Loveland on Tuesday night. Gardner defeated one-term incumbent Rep. Betsy Markey. ( Will Powers )

Gardner credited voter unease with government spending for his win.

"We've got to get a handle on what's going on in Washington, D.C. -- the spending and the deficit," Gardner said.

News was better for Democrats in the suburban 7th District, where Rep. Ed Perlmutter defeated Republican Ryan Frazier. With 43 percent of the projected vote counted at 2 a.m., Perlmutter led Frazier 53-42 percent.

After declaring victory, Perlmutter turned a cartwheel before a rowdy crowd of Democrats. During the campaign, Republicans used video of Perlmutter turning cartwheels in negative ads. Perlmutter acknowledged that he was nervous he'd lose the election as outside groups poured money into advertising against him.

"This has been a tough, grueling campaign. But I gotta tell you, even though I was nervous I never doubted our success because I knew I had all of you," Perlmutter told supporters.

Still undecided at presstime was the contentious race between incumbent Democratic Rep John Salazar and Republican challenger Scott Tipton in the 3rd Congressional District. As of 2 a.m., Tipton was leading with 49 percent of the vote to Salazar's 47 percent

Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter prepares to cartwheel as he celebrates his win in the 7th Congressional District at post election party with supporters at
Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter prepares to cartwheel as he celebrates his win in the 7th Congressional District at post election party with supporters at the Holiday Inn in Lakewood on Tuesday night. ( Kathryn Scott Osler )

The state's remaining three U.S. House incumbents cruised to easy victories: Democrat Diana DeGette, and Republicans Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn.

Polis celebrated with fellow Democrats at the Boulder Drafthouse in downtown.

"It's going to be a different Congress," he said.

Polis said he wants to put party labels aside.

"There are definitely some bright spots on the map for progressives."

Coffman, who is going to Washington for a second term from a suburban Denver district, said Republican gains in Colorado mirrored GOP gains nationwide.

"This election was a referendum of whether the Congress should continue down this reckless path of out-of-control spending or whether this nation should return to fiscal discipline," Coffman said.