- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2007

DENVER — Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican, announced yesterday that he would retire from the Senate in 2008 rather than run for re-election, honoring his term-limits pledge, despite party pressure to seek a third term.

“The people of Colorado placed their trust in me based on a promise I made to them, and I am honoring that promise,” said Mr. Allard at a press conference at the state Capitol. “In an age when promises are cast away as quickly as yesterday’s newspaper, I believe a promise made should be a promise kept.”

State and national Republicans had urged the senator to run again, citing the difficulty of defending an open seat, but the 63-year-old Mr. Allard, accompanied by his wife, Joan, said he wanted to uphold the ideal of the short-term “citizen legislator.”

“We didn’t ever hesitate to think we weren’t going to keep that pledge,” said Mr. Allard, who has championed proposals to restrict senators to two terms.

His announcement touched off a succession scramble that immediately pushed Colorado into the must-win category for both parties. Each has reason for optimism: state Democrats have enjoyed a winning streak of late that includes the governor’s office and control of the legislature, but Republicans still hold the state voter-registration edge.

“One thing about Colorado politics is that the unexpected happens,” said Republican political consultant Dick Wadhams, who guided Mr. Allard’s 1996 Senate victory.

Mr. Wadhams, who is expected to take over as Colorado Republican Party chairman in March, advised would-be candidates to “get in soon.” Democratic Rep. Mark Udall has already taken that advice, indicating that he would run for the seat whether or not Mr. Allard retired.

Other possible Democratic contenders are Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Rep. John Salazar, whose older brother, Ken, is the state’s junior senator.

At the top of the Republican list would be former Gov. Bill Owens, who left office earlier this month after serving two terms. Mr. Owens had been encouraging Mr. Allard to run for re-election while indicating that he had no interest in the seat himself.

Also being mentioned are former Reps. Scott McInnis and Bob Schaffer, as well as Rep. Tom Tancredo — although he is exploring a dark-horse presidential bid for 2008.

Mr. Allard served three terms in the House before running for Senate in 1996 after Republican Sen. Hank Brown’s retirement. A large-animal veterinarian from rural Loveland, he was regarded as a long-shot even after he won the Republican primary.

His folksy manner and solidly conservative views struck a chord with voters, and he defeated former U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland 51 percent to 46 percent. Six years later, he defeated the same candidate by the same margin.

Mr. Allard was expected to face a tough re-election battle in 2008, but he insisted that had nothing to do with his decision to retire. “I’ve never backed away from a challenge,” he said.

He cited among his proudest accomplishments the ahead-of-schedule cleanup of the Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons plant; the creation of Sand Dunes National Park and the nation’s largest urban-wildlife refuge at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal; and returning to the taxpayers $4.2 million by cutting expenses from his personal office account.

Asked about his plans after leaving the Senate, Mr. Allard noted that he had kept up his veterinary license.

“Senator Allard never lost an election, and he ran as the underdog in every race,” Mr. Wadhams said. “He was the most accessible senator I think we’ve ever had in Colorado. Anybody could show up and ask him anything. He has a special place in Colorado history.”

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