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CO-Senate: Salazar Departure Creates GOP Opportunity



Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar's nomination to Interior would open up a Senate seat in a competitive state.

The expectation that Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar will be nominated as Interior Secretary by President-elect Barack Obama presents Republicans with a prime pickup opportunity in a swing state, an early sign that their fortunes may be turning after two disastrous elections in which the party lost a combined 13 seats in the Senate.

Gov. Bill Ritter (D) will appoint Salazar's replacement but that appointed senator will have less than two years to establish himself or herself before standing for election to a full six-year term in 2010.

While most Democrats were reluctant to speak about the race for the appointment before Salazar was formally announced by Obama, several names regularly came up in conversations with sources familiar with Colorado politics.

Here's a quick look at the frontrunners:

Bill Ritter: Ritter won the 2006 governor's race by 17 points -- a stunning margin given the typically close statewide races in Colorado. Despite that wide margin, Republican strategists viewed Ritter as more vulnerable than Salazar heading into the 2010 election. Could Ritter jump ship to avoid a brutal reelection race? Maybe.

John Hickenlooper: The Denver mayor is one of the most popular political figures in the state and is regularly mentioned for statewide openings. And, following the successful Democratic National Convention last summer in Denver, Hickenlooper's profile -- both in the state and nationally -- is even higher. Hickenlooper was easily reelected mayor in 2007 and is entering his sixth year in the job. Now might be a good time to make a move.

John Salazar: The older brother of Ken Salazar, John currently holds the Western Slope 3rd congressional district -- a swing seat held by Republicans for more than a decade before he won it in 2004. John Salazar's appeal is obvious: he shares the popular political lineage of his brother and his appointment would allow Ritter to replace one Hispanic senator with another. If John Salazar was appointed, however, it would create a major problem for House Democrats who might struggle to hold his seat in a special election.

Of the other names mentioned regularly by Democrats, the most serious appears to be outgoing state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

While Republicans expressed optimism about their chances of competing for Salazar's seat in two years time, there are two obvious hurdles for the GOP: a thin bench and the possibility that retiring Rep. Tom Tancredo will run for the seat.

Democrats' successes in Colorado over the past few elections have sidelined a number of Republican rising stars including former Reps. Bob Beauprez and Bob Schaffer -- both of whom lost badly in recent statewide races.

Beauprez, who was soundly defeated by Ritter in 2006, has been considering a run for governor or Senate in 2010 and the Salazar opening may make him more likely to go the federal route. Former Rep. Scott McInnis has considered running statewide several times and may not be able to pass on an open Senate seat. Conservative talk radio host Dan Caplis, who was actively involved in John McCain's Colorado campaign, is also seen as a possible candidate.

And then there is Tancredo, the controversial congressman and presidential candidate who is leaving Congress after five terms. Tancredo has said he is interested in running statewide and his strong opposition to illegal immigration gives him a strong foothold in a Republican primary. Most GOP strategists believe that Tancredo as the party's nominee would amount to handing the seat to Democrats.

Obama has largely avoided plucking elected officials for his Cabinet that create electoral problems down the line for Democrats. Salazar is a break with that mission as he would easily win reelection in 2010 if he does not head Interior.

Salazar's selection would ensure that Colorado will see a third competitive Senate race in the last four election cycles. Political junkies rejoice!

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 16, 2008; 6:37 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Interesting points and analysis bot_feeder, and you may be right about Tancredo not being able to win a Senate seat. Much of the MSM has superficially tagged him as a "single-issue candidate" on illegal immigration, but I'm sure as you know illegal immigration encompasses many issues such as national security, the public health system, education costs etc. For example, FAIR just released a study that shows illegal immigration costs Colorado 1.1 billion a year, or about $612 for every native-born household in the state -- just looking at K-12 education, public health care, and incarceration from criminal illegal aliens.

Even so, it would be interesting if Tancredo runs and is at least able to mount a credible campaign without much of the GOP cheap labor country clubbers backing him.

Posted by: swingvoter3 | December 17, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse


Another thing about Tancredo.

While his stance on immigration is, if anything, a positive, since those who actually have studied immigration politics know that even a majority of liberal Democrats are closer to the views of Tancredo than those of the party establishment, his views on other issues are very conservative, more conservative than those of the average Coloradan, and that would be a big hurdle (almost certainly insurmountable, in my view) for him to overcome in a Senate race.

Posted by: bot_feeder | December 17, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse


It is true that Tancredo's views on immigration policy are in line with those of the majority of the public.

Tancredo's problem is not his stance on immigration, which is in the mainstream, but the fact that his strong focus on that issue has led to him gaining an image as a single-issue candidate, which would in my view make it difficult for him to be competitive in a race for statewide office.

Add to that the fact that not only the media and Democrats but also the sweatshop wing of the Republican Party would be demonizing him in the campaign, and he would have a huge uphill battle.

Tancredo could win a US Senate seat if and when the immigration issue becomes the dominant one in the public eye. Unfortunately, the only way that is liable to happen is if the open-borders lobby succeeds in pushing through "comprehensive immigration reform", which would be a national disaster, turning our deep recession into a Great Depression that would make the 1930s look like paradise.

Perhaps, even our existing over-permissive immigration policies, that could very well drive up unemployment into the 15-20% range, might be a catalyst that would vault immigration to the top of the public's radar screen, resulting in politicians like Tancredo that were ahead of their time to take their rightful place in history as the ones who reversed an era of horrendous misgovernment by the political establishment of both major parties.

But, we are far from that situation now. And I don't think under current circumstances Tancredo would be competitive for a US Senate seat.

But I do hope Colorado can find a good Republican contender for the seat in 2010, someone who is NOT a member of the sweatshop wing of the party.

The trouble is, generally the Ruling Class chooses both Democratic and Republican nominees for Senate, and supporting open-borders is a prerequisite to be in the good graces of the Ruling Class.

Posted by: bot_feeder | December 17, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm "replace one Hispanic senator with another." Replace the word Hispanic with another ethnicity or race, and some would call this racist. And why describe Tom Tancredo as "controversial." The dying MSM and the open borders crowd may label him as such, but it just so happens that Tancredo espouses views on illegal immigration that are supported by the vast majority of Americans -- as evidenced by a recent Rasmussen poll that showed "74% of U.S. voters continue to believe the federal government is not doing enough to secure the country's borders," and that "63% of voters say gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers in the country."

Posted by: swingvoter3 | December 17, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

It is beyond amusing to read people describing Tom Tancredo as a racist while simultaneously stressing the importance of having a Latino represent CO. Obama has followed LaRaza's marching orders and appointed the designated number of Latinos as his quid pro quo. As someone who is intent on preserving our sovereignty and as a citizen who wants a senator to represent all Americans (not one specific ethnic group), this state/country could not ask for a better public servant than Tom Tancredo. The real victory would be realized if Tom won without one cent of support from the RNC. It is time to vote principles over party and it is long past the time we no longer defer to party bosses telling us who we can/will vote for to represent us.

Posted by: KmaMedPR | December 16, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

It's a s-l-o-w day in politics when this stuff gets printed.

Just a LITTLE EARLY to be picking apart this one, don'cha think ???

Posted by: phoenixresearch | December 16, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you missed the last couple of years of history before you jump to any conclusions about Colorado regaining any Republican seats. Three years ago at this time Virginia Republican Senator George Allen was 54 points ahead of Jim Webb in Virginias Senate Race. After the Macaca moment Allen Campaign Manager Dick Wadhams attacked the media. Within weeks Webb was being sworn in as the new Senator from Virginia. The momentum continued following Wadhams reign in Virginia. Virginia now has two Democratic Senators and a Democratic Governor. Wadhams returned to Colorado. He had all the great choices you mentioned but he hand selected Bob Schaffer to run for the Senate because Schaffer is pro life and a gay basher. Moderates need not apply when Wadhams is back. He spend mostly two years attacking Mark Udall for being a Boulder Liberal and the press for reporting that Schaffer went on a $20000 vacation with Jack Abramoff. By the time that it was over, it was not even close. His former boss Wayne Allard's house seat was held by three time Congresswoman and gay basher Marilyn Musgrave. Keep in mind this district is 60 40 Republican. She lost big. Big. Colorado, like Virginia has two Democratic Senators thanks to Wadhams. The only thing that kept Allen out of the White House is Dick Wadhams. And he is back. He will run again for party chair. The Democrats out raised him 3 to 1 in Republican Colorado. His candidate recruited only includes right wingers like Bill Owens, Tom Tancredo and Marilyn Musgrave. Reelection for the weak Governor is a sure thing. The Senate seat will democatic for as long as the State of Colorado can say Dick Wadhams. By the time Musgrave finished, several Republican office holders endorse the new Democratic Congress woman. Wadhams said Boulder Liberal so many times that people in Colorado do not know what a macaca is. Colorado is not in play. Colorado is a republican state but but not with Candidates like Marilyn Musgrave, Divorcee Bill Owens, Wayne Allard, Tom Tancredo and moderate Genghis Khan. If anyone needs to remember- Remember George Allen. No person has done more for the Democratic Party than Dick Wadhams and there is no reason to beleive that is going to change. Mark Colorado down as safe blue. That is until the run Dick Wadhams out of town.

Posted by: HelloNewman1 | December 16, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey Cillizza? Are there any actions by any Democrat that WON'T be a sign that the "Republicans fortunes are starting to turn"?

First it was Chambliss winning a run-off election in deep red Georgia. Then it was Republicans winning a House race in Lousiana against a Dem under indictment for bribery. Now it's another senator being appointed to the cabinet and the Rs might maybe could maybe possibly win the seat (even though you do admit they don't really have all that strong a bench of candidates from which to draw)

Yessir! It's all good for the Republicans every day now.

Posted by: cadet70 | December 16, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"The only serious canidate who I would fear the Republcans running is former Governor Bill Owens and you did not mention him."

Owens lost the support of Republicans after he got sensible and worked to fix the budget nightmare, much to the chagrin of the Club for Growth and Norquist's goons. I don't expect him to seriously contest the primary, even though he'd be best in the general.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 16, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Question, is Tom22 just that good at writing parody or does he really believe that stuff?

Hickenlooper is far and away the best choice, and he will trounce anyone in the CO GOP's weak bench. If this is a bright spot for the Republicans, the next couple of election cycles won't look much better for them than the last two.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | December 16, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse


i think arne duncan, new Secretary of Education is a WASP.

A Chicago WASP.

All the Chicagoans are showing up in Wash DC. We may just get something done.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | December 16, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

well heck, I am a WASP ya all....

and the only golden name in Colorado
is John Elway..
(((( chuckles ))))
Besides, he needs another job now that the Arena League got suspended for 2009.

Ya think?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | December 16, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I think Colorodo will be a very competitive state in 2010. Ritter will be up for re-election & the Salazer seat will be up again. I believe the obvious replacement for Ken Salazar, if choosen as interior secretary, will be US rep & his brother John Salazar. Salazar is a moderate in a district that should really be red. He's a moderate and has a golden name. Salazar will also be a good fundraiser. I think it's fairly certain to say that John will be a fairly certain choice to fill Ken's seat. On the Republican side, 5 names jump out at me for these 2 high profiled seats: John Suthers, Bill Owens, Scott McInnis, Mike Coffman & John Elway. First & foremost, former treasurer & current secretary of state Mike Coffman just ran & won Tom Tancredo's old congressional seat which is a very safe seat and he isn't likely to leave & run for an uncertain statewide senate seat. I think he likes being a US congressman. I believe Colo. Attorney General John Suthers will run against Ritter for governor. This should be a very competitive race. Suthers was actually appointed originally by former gov. Bill Owens when Salazar left the atty. general post and was elected to the US senate in 2004. Suthers is a Owens type Republican, and Colorodo should take well to him. He will likely not be contested for the Republican nomination. Owens is likely doing very well in the private sector. Plus, he has had a divorce since departing from the governor's office. I seriously doubt Bill Owens will run for the senate seat. Assuming I'm right & Atty. General Suthers runs for governor and if Coffman stays in the House with Owens likely not running...that leaves McInnis or Elway. Elway would be a dream candidate with very deep pockets and good ties to the business community with great name recognition & high Colorodo favorbility ratings that would take others millions to buy. That's a heck of a starting place! If Elway says he will run, McInnis won't take on that primary race. If Elway declines to run, McInnis will likely step up and run this time for the Senate seat. McInnis has a name of being a fiscal conservative with great economic genius. He would certainly have the backing of Colorodo business leaders and fiscal conservatives...with likely help from the Club for Growth as well. Either way, a Suthers governor run with either Elway/McInnis would make Colorodo very competitive with Ritter vs. Suthers & John Salazar vs. Elway/McInnis contests. I will say that either Elway or McInnis would not deter Tom Tancredo to run for the Senate Seat. Against Elway, Elway would likely win handily. However, McInnis vs. Tancredo would be a very hard fought & brutal Republican primary. Very tough election for R's if Tancredo wins the R nomination.

Posted by: reason5 | December 16, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. It sounds like the Democrats have plenty of strong possibilities for maintaining this seat in the 2010 election. And your worst case scenario is losing one House seat? Like they don't have a large enough margin in the House.

Posted by: caribis | December 16, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Ted Haggard isn't busy and he can unite the evangelicals, the Log Cabin Republicans, and the meth and crack wings of the GOP.
Wait, maybe some folks from the MMS office for royalties there can run for the next opening-they know about hookers, blow and quid pro quo already, for sure, so they would be good fits for a GOP majority state.
Mark Foley could move and establish residency in time to run on family values. OR he could gay marry Larry Craig. David Vitter could officiate the ceremony in his diaper baby fetish gear with the DC Madam.

Maybe this isn't a good year for the GOP. Absence makes the heart grow fonder!

Posted by: sparkplug1 | December 16, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"Are WASPS not allowed in the cabinet?"

Let me think, what is the top cabinet post? Oh, yeah, Secretary of State. Is Hillary Clinton not a WASP? Secretary of Defense? WASP. NSA? WASP.

But the larger point is, Obama is picking minorities, but they are not affirmative-action picks. It is very hard to find minorities in the GOP, so qualified minorities may be likewise hard to find. Hence your confusion.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | December 16, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Prediction: In 4 years Obama cabinet will be filled with corruption stories and the Maverick Reformer Sarah Palin will be our President."

Man, how useless of a person must you be to want Sarah Palin as president? Are these people so insecure with their faith that they want someone with no real pertinent skills, but can wave a bible around?

And to think they call themselves Americans. They are just disgusting people.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 16, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Probably because he keeps getting banned & has to sign up with a new name every couple weeks. What I want to know is how he knows the motivations and/or political affiliations/voting records of the people who report his posts as abuse. That would be a pretty neat trick, if he had proof rather than just paranoid suspicions."

Well, I have reported him. It was just getting ridiculous. He's toned it down a heck of a lot, so I don't see myself complaining anytime soon. The only other person I've tried to get banned was someone who would copy and paste like 20 pages worth of anti-McCain/pro-Obama screed within one post. If you thought the 37 guy was annoying, THAT was pretty rough on my mouse scroller.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 16, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Are WASPS not allowed in the Obama Cabinet?

Oh wait...they screwed up the country....so we need a lot of Affirmative Action Do Nothing Empty Suit Trolls to get the country on the right track...ha ha ha...that's a laugh...

Affirmative Action people never do anything right. This will be interesting to watch as the country sinks into a Depression as the Obama Cheerleaders (Washington Press Corps) lob softball questions and this Keystone Cops cabinet bumps into each other trying to find a WASP to blame. Unfortunately, none are in the cabinet. This is hilarioius.

Prediction: In 4 years Obama cabinet will be filled with corruption stories and the Maverick Reformer Sarah Palin will be our President.

Look at Mugabe in Zimbabwe or Mbeki in South Africa if you want to see the result of what Affirmative Action Trolls do when they get complete control of stuff.

Posted by: Tom22 | December 16, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

ddawd aks
"How exactly do you know that people are reporting you?"

Probably because he keeps getting banned & has to sign up with a new name every couple weeks. What I want to know is how he knows the motivations and/or political affiliations/voting records of the people who report his posts as abuse. That would be a pretty neat trick, if he had proof rather than just paranoid suspicions.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 16, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

It will be soooo boring for mainstream political writers if Obama is successful and the Dems dominate for the foreseeable future.

But, don't make your fear of ennui so obvious, Establishment Media. Nuance is BACK!

Remember?

Posted by: rebeccajm | December 16, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Silly. Why would Obama apoint Salazar if he thought he'd end up inheriting another GOP Senator in two years?

Yes it could be a sign of a turning point for GOP politics, after a string of stinging, embarassing, pathetic showings. On the other hand, it might not be. I'm gonna go with the latter.

Posted by: mrblifil | December 16, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I lived in Colorado between 1998 and 2003 and have worked the last two election cyles for Democrats in Colorado. I would rather see Salazar stay put because it will help the Democrats build their bench in Colorado. I would hardly call former Reps. Bob Beauprez and Bob Schaffer rising stars. They would be retreads from the Gingrich revolution. Tomcrado is a real racist and Dan Caplis is right-winger in there with Rush Limbaugh and I do hope the Republicans run either of them. The only serious canidate who I would fear the Republcans running is former Governor Bill Owens and you did not mention him.

Posted by: bradcpa | December 16, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The GOP cupboard in Colorado is embarassingly bare; given Colorado's accelerating blueness, a Democrat would be solidly favoured (so long as the Obama Presidency is reasonably successful).

Posted by: SeanC1 | December 16, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"The Obama people are abusing the "report abuse" button"

How exactly do you know that people are reporting you?

Posted by: DDAWD | December 16, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Romanoff would be amazing.

Posted by: bococo | December 16, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The commenters are really taking you to task here Chris! You should take their advice. Much of it is quite good and ON POINT. Better stick to the close confines of DC conventional wisdom and let Westerners like us help you out here. Just some friendly advice from way out here in middle America!

Posted by: jimmyjamesjr | December 16, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Chris, Chris, Chris....you're missing out on so many other pertinent, as well as accurate, headlines.

Obama wins Presidency...creates opportunity for GOP.

Bush falls under 30% popularity....creating opportunity for GOP.

Senate Committee concludes Bush administration orchestrated war crimes....creating opportunity for GOP.

Posted by: bluester | December 16, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The competitiveness of this race really depends on how the first two years of the Obama administration go. I think that handicapping any of these races now is tough because there is no telling what the political environment will look like in 2010.

I think that Colorado has been trending Democratic, moderate Democratic. The Colorado Republicans haven't seemed to figure out that it's not a Ruby Red anymore and they cannot run a Right-Wing candidate for a statewide election.

To me, the most obvious pick would be Ken's brother to hold the seat. The Salazar Brand is gold and he would coast to victory. It wouldn't surprise me if the Republicans nominated Tancredo.

Posted by: rosenblj | December 16, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Your headline is absurd.

Chris, you don't have to pander to the GOP any more. They can't hurt you now.

You can start being a journalist again.

Posted by: Wellstone | December 16, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

.

.

.

.

Chris:

The Obama people are abusing the "report abuse" button - because they are using it BASED ON CONTENT OF OPPOSING VIEWS.


It is sad.


Also, if the Obama transition office is doing this - we have GOVERNMENT FUNDS BEING UTILIZED TO VIOLATE THE CIVIL RIGHTS, IN THIS CASE FREE SPEECH RIGHTS, OF US CITIZENS.


Nice.


Really great group of people these Obama nuts.


.


.

.

.

Posted by: 37thandORulesForever | December 16, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Chris--

Don't forget about Rep. Ed Perlmutter...watch for his stock to rise in the coming weeks. There's also the SOS seat for Ritter to fill and Romanoff is the favorite for that appointment.

Posted by: ginz1957 | December 16, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Republicans must be lacking in the "great news" department, if this far off "opportunity" is a bright spot.

Posted by: AsperGirl | December 16, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

All this article makes me think is that The Fix should find a way to get an army of interns and do a nationwide analysis of each party's back bench on a state by state basis.

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 16, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me?! Ken Salazar will make a great Secretary of the Interior because as a Senator he leaves a lot to be desired from the Democrat side (check out his voting record). I am glad I won't have to vote for him in 2010. As for his replacement, Andrew Romanoff would be excellent. He has proven himself over and over. Sorry, but the Republicans with Dick Wadhams, et al, don't stand a chance.

Posted by: ajhann | December 16, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

It's always great news for Republicans! If only the voters would see it that way!

Posted by: miket000 | December 16, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

This is so stupid of Obama. Why is he raiding the Democratic majority (both sitting Senators and potential viable challengers, see e.g. Napolitano, Janet) to fill cabinet posts? Obama would be better off with firm control of the senate than with his first choice for a cabinet post.

Posted by: robj | December 16, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Chris

OH no the Obama people are not trying to silence the opposition

Posted by: 37thandORulesForever | December 16, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

So this is a great opportunity for Repubs -- except for the fact that they're all lepers.

You might want to re-think that headline.

Posted by: misterjrthed | December 16, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Greetings from Colorado! Sorry Chris, you missed this one. Sorry GOP, hate to burst your bubble but NO opportunity here! Colorado is getting blue-er and blue-er, sending people like Marilyn Musgrave home and approving things like public transportation and pro-environmental initiatives. Ken in Interior strengthens our state's national presence.

Posted by: Dr_JES | December 16, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

KEN SALAZAR has been a fave senator of mine; I have even been a small contributor to his campaign from here in TX. I think he will be an excellent choice for Interior and that he will be unanimously confirmed by the Senate. He is one more pragmatic centrist in an unusually non-ideological Cabinet.

The next two years will not be a typical two year period. The economic meltdown assured that, but we must remember that the first two years of a four year prez admin are the "governing" years that precede the "campaigning" years. Therefore Ritter's choice will have a greater chance of establishing an insurmountable base of support then s/he would have had in the latter two years of a prez admin, in a time when we were not facing a national crisis.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 16, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

CC,

You describe a Democratic vulnerability only in the theoretical sense that a popular incumbent will have an easier time winning than an appointee with only two years in the seat. If these were normal times, the GOP could threaten, but with the demographic trends within the state, the state of the GOP bench and the crises that seem to be pulling Americans together, I'm sure the Obama team rightly considered the risks of losing the seat in 2010 as minimal.

Posted by: optimyst | December 16, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Chris--do you read what you write? The conclusion most observers would take from your analysis is that the Republicans will have an uphill battle to win this seat, with no attractive candidates (Tancredo?!?) and a state that has been trending Democratic for some time. I think the opportunity for a Democrat to retain the seat is extremely high.

Posted by: Dgarfinkel | December 16, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to see how the political dynamic shapes up-- and I suspect Chris will have an eye on Colorado for upcoming Friday Lines.

Posted by: dbitt | December 16, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Picking Rep. John Salazar to finish up brother Ken's term is the highest risk strategy, in that it opens up John's 3rd Congressional District seat which is WAY more conservative and republican than the rest of the state. In Mesa County -- one of the larger Counties in the 3rd CD -- McCain beat Obama 65% to 35%. Keeping the 3rd CD democratic will not be easy if Jon Salazar moves to the Senate.

Naming another high profile democrat to the open Senate seat and leaving Rep. Salazar in his House seat is probably the best way to maintain the democratic control of both seats.

Posted by: lenstewart | December 16, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I don't think this will be a prime Republican pick-up unless the GOP can offer a moderate candidate. Colorado has been trending Democratic for awhile now. The Dems seems to have a deeper bench...

Posted by: RickJ | December 16, 2008 6:50 AM | Report abuse

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