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Salazar out in Colorado Governor's race

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will not run for governor of Colorado and instead will endorse Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

Salazar served as the state's Attorney General for six years before being elected to the Senate in 2004. He held that post until late 2008 when he was named by the Obama Administration to his current job.

Salazar's decision makes it extremely likely that Hickenlooper, the popular mayor of Denver, will be Democrats' candidate in the race to replace Gov. Bill Ritter (D) who announced his retirement earlier this week.

It also likely means that former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff will remain in a primary fight against appointed Sen. Michael Bennet later this year.

The likely Republican gubernatorial nominee is former Rep. Scott McInnis.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 7, 2010; 12:59 PM ET
Categories:  Governors , White House  
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Scott McInnis is running a great race and has the Republican field all for himself. I think Hickenlooper is a good candidate, but he will be the 2010 version of Tom Kean Jr. (NJ Senate, 2006). He has all of the right tools to be successful in a campaign, it's simply the wrong year and in the wrong political environment for his party. Scott McInnis will roll to victory and become the next governor of Colorodo. Bennett is also in a world of trouble, as Ramanoff will continue his challenge to him in the Senate primary. I think frmr. Lt. Governor Jane Norton has the upper hand in that race. Betsy Markey and Ed Perlmutter should also look out, as Republicans are coming hard for their seats. City counselor Ryan Frazier will be the type of candidate that can beat Perlmutter in Colorodo 7th. It looks like St. Senator Josh Penry will be McInnis running mate, and in initial polling McInnis leads Hickenlooper 45%-42%. A McInnis/Penry team will be a tough combo to beat.

Posted by: reason5 | January 8, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse


You're right, Fast Eddie didn't groom a successor. Looks like the next PA Gov. will be from western PA -- either Corbett or Wagner/Onorato. The D nominee better hope that the Senate race brings out the base because the Governor race certainly won't.

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Joe Hoeffel on the other hand is always ready to step in for his party and run when they have trouble fielding candidates. He digs in, he works toward an end, he never takes it personally.

The Democratic candidates for PA Governor are not sparkling. I fault Big Daddy Rendel for not bringing along a successor. That's part of the job, as far as I am concerned. He didn't do it when he was mayor and he has not done it as governor. You owe it to your party to position the next generation of winning Democrats.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | January 7, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

mnteng, Gerlach doesn't seem to have the stomach for high-sticking primaries or elections. He doesn't do the fund raising thing well, he doesn't get himself enough press and as a congressman he was almost invisible. I feel like he was re-elected in PA CD in 2008 because we were all so busy with other elections and he was so quiet about voting lock-step with Bush that you hardly noticed it. In the end his political career has been a nothing.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | January 7, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

More in my neck of the woods (since I've managed to successfully thread-jack once already):

"Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) has ended his campaign for Pennsylvania governor, clearing the way for state Attorney General Tom Corbett in the GOP primary."

Corbett, for non-PA readers, is the only R to get elected state-wide in 2008 and was trouncing Gerlach in the polls.

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse


Ah, right. Now I remember that poll! And by Selzer as well, one of the more reliable pollsters. 24 points is a lot of ground to make up.

I found this nugget in the piece to be interesting:

"Culver's job approval is his lowest since taking office and reflects a 20-percentage-point slide since January. At 49 percent, more Iowans disapprove than approve of the job he has done.

The last governor to score as low was Branstad. In February 1992, as he grappled with that year's recession and budget crisis, only 37 percent of Iowans approved of his performance."

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse


I think it was the Des Monies Register (DMR) poll that put Culver on CC’s watch list. DMR endorsed Obama in 2008 election so they do not have any agenda against D. I would trust the DMR poll more than Daily/KOS here is a link to DMR.

Posted by: sliowa1 | January 7, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse


DailyKos poll in October.

I don't remember seeing the Des Moines Register poll though. I'll have a look for it.

But I'm just an interloper (PA resident). Your input is more relevant than mine -- and I appreciate the insight. Do you think any of the other R candidates has a chance against Branstad?

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse


“Last poll I saw about a hypothetical Culver/Branstad matchup had Branstad ahead by a few points. I think it will be a tight race.”

The poll I saw showed Culver almost 20% points behind Branstad and it was conducted by Des Monies Register, but it was conducted late fall of last year. What poll are you referring to showing a few point difference?

Posted by: sliowa1 | January 7, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

"However, there are several R candidates running for governor who are fairly conservative so they may force Barnstad to take more extreme views. If the election was held today, Culver would be out, but the election is 10 months away and a lot can happen in that time."

Primary season may be more fun to watch than the general this year.


Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse


The Rs have been out of the governor’s office for three election cycles, so I think they are hungry enough to allow Barnstad even if he was a RINO. While Barnstad is not a tea bagger or club for growth adherent, he is still fairly conservative. However, there are several R candidates running for governor who are fairly conservative so they may force Barnstad to take more extreme views. If the election was held today, Culver would be out, but the election is 10 months away and a lot can happen in that time.

Posted by: sliowa1 | January 7, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse


Yeah, Branstad has a right-wing opponent who is unlikely to drop out of the R primary. Had to look up the name -- Chris Rants. He's already been attacking Branstad's record as being not conservative enough.

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Barnstad have a RINO problem as well?

Posted by: margaretmeyers | January 7, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse


"I personally think that Culver wins easily."

Did you not also pick that VA and NJ would vote D as well. If Culver wins, it will not be easy. I am not sure where you are getting your data. Culver lacks leadership and vision not to mention intellect. His previous post before Gov was Sec. State for Iowa in which some of his activities have now been audited and found to be mishandled (i.e., Rock the Vote) not to mention other mishandled items since he took office (Tax credits for movie industry). I will not go as far as to say he is corrupt only incompetent. While Culver has deep ties in politics through his family, he is not highly regarded. Who else has to run campaign commercials in a non-election year to tout “his accomplishments.” I will not go as far as say he will be defeated only acknowledge he has an uphill battle. Culver can not blame R for the states trouble since they have controlled power and the governor mansion.

Posted by: sliowa1 | January 7, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse


Last poll I saw about a hypothetical Culver/Branstad matchup had Branstad ahead by a few points. I think it will be a tight race.

It looks like Branstad has trimmed his mustache back a little since his days at Gov. though -- not really a '70s porn star 'stache anymore.

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Even Rasmussen has Blumenthal ahead in CT [although not by as much as every other poll]

The new Rasmussen poll of Connecticut, conducted last night in the wake of Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd's retirement announcement, confirms that Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is now the heavy favorite to keep the seat for the party.

Blumenthal leads former Rep. Rob Simmons by 56%-33%; Blumenthal leads former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon by 58%-34%; and Blumenthal leads financial analyst Peter Schiff by 60%-24%. These results are fairly similar to yesterday's numbers from Public Policy Polling (D), which was conducted just before the news of Dodd's retirement and Blumenthal's entry into the race.

Dodd had been performing badly in previous Rasmussen polls. From the pollster's analysis: "With a single announcement, Chris Dodd transformed the Senate race in Connecticut from one that leaned in the GOP direction to a fairly safe bet for the Democratic Party."

Note: Blumenthal leads financial analyst Peter Schiff by 60%-24%. Schiff is the Teabagger pick.

Posted by: drindl | January 7, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

1522 J. CLERK in Ellis 'Orig. Lett.' Ser. III. I. 312 There be deputed for gouernators here, for this first moneth of the Popis absence, the Cardinall 'Sanctae Crucis primus Episcopus Cardinalis', The Cardinall Sedunen [ect.].!DCD7544ECCB8065F!267.entry

Posted by: edtroyhampton | January 7, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Bsimon: thanks. Coming from you that means a lit to me.

Posted by: Noacoler | January 7, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

How often in U.S. history has someone left a cabinent position to be governor?

Posted by: GD1975 | January 7, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I saw that Branstad announced his intentions on Twitter of all things. The only campaign announcements that should be made on Twitter are for Freshman class president or captain of the cheerios.

I personally think that Culver wins easily. Although, Branstad does have a sweet moustache so he's got that going for him.

Posted by: AndyR3 | January 7, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Noacoler - wish I'd written that.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Democrats have a solid advantage in Republicans' inability to learn from their failures. Whether they're smart enough to capitalize on it is another matter.

Posted by: Noacoler | January 7, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again for the scoop, CC.

You gotta tell "fixmom" that you really are good at digging up political news. Just don't let her read the comments on your blog.

Posted by: mnteng | January 7, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

McInnis has TeaTroubles..

' A move by gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis to clear opponents from the Republican primary field and unite the state party under one banner has instead driven away some factions he had hoped to court.

A band of conservative Tea Party activists, along with less vocal officials elsewhere in the GOP, continue to bristle at what they see as a circumvention of their rights to choose a candidate and a platform.

The dissatisfaction has recently manifest itself in angry e-mails and vows of support for long-shot Republican candidate and Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, in protest of national media reports suggesting McInnis has won over conservatives in Colorado.

McInnis unveiled a Platform for Prosperity on Nov. 23, in part to appeal to conservative voters, as he accepted the endorsements of two possible Republican opponents who bowed out of next year's gubernatorial race...

Folks, we are witnessing something very important here. Despite the best efforts of all parties involved--from the GOP kingpins who muscled Josh Penry out of the gubernatorial primary, to Tom Tancredo who provided a week's worth of absurd "hard negotiation" theatrics, to the overly accommodating editors and columnists at the Denver Post who rolled out the insistent red carpet for "McInnis Unity"--despite everything they did to avoid this moment, the monkey of Dede Scozzafava is squarely on McInnis' back.'

Posted by: drindl | January 7, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to the next Governor from the Great State of Colorado, Scott McInnis : )

Posted by: JakeD | January 7, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Salazar would have been a strong candidate. Thought for sure Ritter was just a victim of White House pressure to make way for Salazar.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 7, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

This is suprising I thought for sure that Salazar would jump ship and run for governer. This still may not be a bad thing for the Democrats. Supposedly Hickenlooper is very well liked in Denver which is the make or break area for state wide elections in CO. The people I know who live in Denver say good things about how the city is run so hopefully that good feeling will carry over in November.

Posted by: AndyR3 | January 7, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

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