DENVER -- Colorado Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter announced Wednesday that he will not seek a second term, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife, Jeanne, and four children. The Ritters' youngest child is a senior in high school, although the governor said he has two children still living at home.
His surprise announcement immediately touched off speculation as to who would seek the Democratic Party's 2010 gubernatorial nomination. Possible candidates include Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Rep. Ed Perlmutter.
Early polls showed Mr. Ritter trailing former Rep. Scott McInnis, the likely Republican nominee, but the governor insisted he was under no pressure from the Democratic Party to drop out of the race.
"I thought the election was absolutely winnable," Mr. Ritter said at a press conference. "For me, it was not about whether I was going to win or lose the election -- I'm a trial lawyer, I love a fight."
In December, Mr. Ritter's deputy chief of staff, Stephanie Villafuerte, withdrew her name for consideration for U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado after Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, put a hold on her nomination. Republicans accused her of accessing a restricted government immigration data base during Mr. Ritter's 2006 campaign.