Dem Casting Call: Who Will Replace CO Gov. Bill Ritter?

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonicsquirtgun/">Matthew_Roberts</a> (Creative Commons)

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Part of the Democrats’ black Tuesday, which included a set of rough retirement announcements, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has decided not to run for a second term. This ignited a flurry of speculation about which of the state’s Dems will attempt to fill the one-term governor’s place. On Twitter, Mark Ambinder reports that the White House is pushing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to go for it. But Obama pulled Salazar away from his Senate seat just last year to join the administration, and it would be a shame to send him back so soon. (Though the idea of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Secretary of the Interior is chuckle-worthy, to say the least.)

So let’s take a look at the state’s in-house candidates. The top contender seems to be Andrew Romanoff, the state Rep. who has already launched a 2010 Senate primary campaign against Sen. Michael Bennet. Bennet was appointed to complete Salazar’s term last year, but he must win the seat for himself this November. 

Some have suggested that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper would be a good fit. Hickenlooper has long been rumored to be a potential Gubernatorial candidate, but declined to run against Ritter in 2006 to replace the term-limited Republican governor Bill Owens, saying “I would not be unraveling the fabric of collaboration.” Asked on the phone by a local reporter if he would run this year, Hickenlooper responded that his cell phone was running out of batteries. 

Former Rep. Scott McInnis, the leading Republican in the field, has said that both Romanoff and Hickenlooper are too Denver-centric and would have trouble mounting a state-wide challenge. And the McInnis team is stepping up its game. “We beat the varsity team a little earlier than we thought we would,” said a McInnis spokesman. “They’ve got to go to plan B, or the b-team.”

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