- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
Candidates aplenty for Salazar’s seat
DENVER | When Ken Salazar leaves the Senate to head the Interior Department, as expected, there won’t be any shortage of prominent Colorado Democrats to succeed him.
“Colorado Democrats used to say they had no bench, and now they’re falling off the edge,” Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said.
At the top of the shortlist would be Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, followed in no particular order by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former Denver Mayor Frederico Pena and Mr. Salazar’s brother, Rep. John Salazar.
Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. would appoint the first-term senator’s successor, who would then have to run for the seat in 2010.
While the scenario sent a shiver of excitement through the state Democratic Party ranks, it also gave state Republicans a rare glimmer of hope for the next election cycle.
Ken Salazar, 53, would never be described as unbeatable by Republicans — at least not in public — but the GOP wasn’t exactly lining up to take on the popular Democrat in the white cowboy hat.
With his departure, the Colorado GOP has a chance to run against a Democrat never elected to the seat and unlikely to have Mr. Salazar’s statewide name recognition and positive image.
“The speculation we’d heard is that [Republicans] would give Ken a ride and go after the governor,” said Denver Democratic consultant Steve Welchert. “But now they could go after both.”
Republicans agreed, sort of.
“I never thought Ken Salazar was invincible even before this surprise announcement,” said Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams. “But the lack of an elected incumbent certainly enhances our ability to compete for the seat.”
Possible Republican candidates for the seat include former Gov. Bill Owens, outgoing Rep. Tom Tancredo, former Rep. Scott McInnis, former state Treasurer Mark Hillman and conservative radio host Dan Caplis.
At the moment, however, the strongest candidate to fill the seat’s remaining two years would be Mr. Hickenlooper, the lanky, earnest Denver mayor who drew national attention as host of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Whether Mr. Hickenlooper, 56, would accept the post is another question. So far, he hasn’t shown any inclination to give up his current job, declining to run for governor in 2006 and the open Senate seat in 2008.
The party favorite could be Mr. Romanoff, 42, a rising star with degrees from Harvard and Yale who found himself term-limited this year after three years as House speaker.
“Within the party itself, he would probably be the front-runner. They’d love to see him restart his career,” Mr. Ciruli said. “Whether they see him as the strongest candidate in 2010 is another question. He’s only won election in one Denver legislative district.”
What’s more, Mr. Romanoff could be out of the running by early January: He’s a finalist to succeed Secretary of State Mike Coffman, who leaves office next month to succeed Mr. Tancredo in the state’s 6th Congressional District.
Within the congressional delegation, Mr. Perlmutter, 55, and John Salazar, 55, are receiving most of the attention. But Mr. Salazar was recently named to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which would presumably give him more clout in Congress than he would have as a freshman senator.
Then there’s the nepotism issue. With Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagejovich recently accused of trying to sell a Senate seat, the naming of John Salazar to the Senate could give rise of speculation that his younger brother had somehow brokered a behind-the-scenes deal.
“Post-Illinois, it doesn’t pass the smell test,” one Colorado political observer said.
A long-shot pick would be Mr. Pena, who headed the transportation and energy departments in the Clinton administration. Despite his Clinton connection, Mr. Pena was a national co-chairman of the Obama for President campaign.
Mr. Pena, 61, could benefit from pressure to keep the seat in Hispanic hands. Similarly, Mrs. Kennedy, 40, who defeated a Republican incumbent to win the state treasurer’s job in 2006, could be the choice of Democrats eager to see more women in the Senate.
About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Californians encouraged to get the Christmas gift that gives all year long: Obamacare
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Fast-food protests spur backlash
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Gay couple's complaint against Colo. baker gets hearing
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
- Leon Panetta named as source of 'Zero Dark Thirty' scriptwriters information
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- FENNO: Honestly, Mike Shanahan, why should we believe you now?
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow