DENVER - Top Colorado Democrats have plenty of admiration for each other but still no candidate for governor after
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided Thursday not to run.
Salazar endorsed Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, but Hickenlooper said Thursday he had not decided yet.
Colorado Democrats all but cleared the decks for Salazar on Wednesday, even as Gov. Bill Ritter was formally
announcing his withdrawal from the race. Salazar's brother, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, told the Pueblo
Chieftain on Wednesday morning that Ken would be the best candidate." But by Wednesday evening, he toned down that
statement, saying several Democrats would make good candidates.
Hickenlooper said Wednesday that Salazar's impressive career had earned the mayor's deference." Salazar returned the
John Hickenlooper is a uniter," Ken Salazar said in a news release. He transcends political and geographic divides
to bring people together to develop solutions. If he decides to run, he will make an excellent governor for the state
For his part, Hickenlooper said he was grateful for Salazar's support.
But, This doesn't change our course. My family and I will take the appropriate time to consider whether a run for
governor is the right thing to do," Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement.
Other Democrats still in the mix include U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff. A Romanoff
spokesman said the campaign would not comment until Hickenlooper and Perlmutter announce their intentions.
The drama leaves the Democrats wondering who their top candidate will be, and Republicans without a foil for Scott
McInnis, the GOP frontrunner, had been leading Ritter in several recent polls. McInnis said he's focused on running a
campaign about job creation, and his opponent's identity doesn't matter.
Our strategy wasn't really focused on going against somebody. Our strategy was going with our message," McInnis
However, by this point in the election, McInnis' campaign would have built up a detailed file of research into
Ritter's record, said Katy Atkinson, a Republican-aligned political consultant. Now, they'll need to start over on a
Probably what's most chaotic right now is not knowing who they're up against," Atkinson said. If it's Ed
Perlmutter, they'll have to dig into his record both as a legislator and a congressman. If it's Hickenlooper, they'll
look at his record as mayor."
The new Democratic candidate has a problem, too, Atkinson said. With Colorado's low campaign finance limits, the new
candidate will have little time to build up a war chest.