By Jody Hope Strogoff
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
Like a quickly changing game of musical chairs, candidates in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race are scrambling for position in a race that is changing almost daily.
On the Republican side, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton will officially announce her candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday with an A-list group of state and national supporters and financial backers behind her. Her entrance into the race will likely overshadow the efforts of Weld County DA Ken Buck and Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, both who have been campaigning for the 2010 Senate seat for the last several months.
A day later, former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, a widely respected Democrat from Denver who was term limited in 2008, will follow suit with his official announcement of candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
Romanoff’s entrance into the Senate race could set up a polarizing primary against fellow Democrat Michael Bennet, who was selected by Gov. Bill Ritter late last year to fill the vacant seat of Sen. Ken Salazar, who was chosen as Secretary of Interior in President Barack Obama’s new administration.
Romanoff’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate first surfaced last year when the popular House leader was mentioned as a strong contender to fill Salazar’s vacant Senate seat. But Ritter instead chose the former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, and Bennet began the year in Washington, D.C. as Colorado’s junior U.S. senator.
Bennet recently finished visiting every single county in the state to meet with constituents, but he has not totally engratiated himself with Democrats across the state. He is viewed as an able fundraiser, but unfamiliar with Colorado and its varying political landscape.
But Bennet has received the important endorsement of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in his quest for a full six year term, as well as the endorsements of Reps. Jared Polis, Betsy Markey and John Salazar. Both Reps. Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter say they are remaining neutral.
Romanoff, a likeable former office holder who helped usher in the new Democratic regime in the state house and senate over the last few years, has always been seen as prime material for higher office. But he was passed over in 2008 for Secretary of State for Bernie Buescher, and then passed over a second time by Ritter when it came to naming a successor to Salazar.
In the ensueing months, Romanoff traveled overseas, has taught a college class and patiently waited for opportunities to arise.
At one point Romanoff was supposedly in the mix to be chosen as Lt. Governor if/when current Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien were to exit the office early, as has been rumored. The scenario never materialized and once again Romanoff found himself squirming for an opportunity to serve after having again been dissed by Ritter a third time.
Romanoff has already filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and plans to have a formal announcement of his campaign on Wed., Sept. 16, beginning in Pueblo at the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk. Later that day, he will travel to Colorado Springs for a “community conversation” and complete his announcement day in Denver with a campaign launch celebration.
Jane Norton’s campaign for Senate this week announced an extensive and growing list of Colorado political and financial leadership. Norton will officially announce her campaign on Tuesday, Sept. 15th. at the Tech Center Marriott, then at stops in Colorado Springs and later in Grand Junction.
The co-chairs of her campaign include former Governor Bill Owens, former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong, former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown, and former Congressman Bob Beauprez, himself a possible candidate for the 2010 Senate seat until last month.
Among Norton’s supporters are Tom J. Allee; Jonathan Anderson; Benjie Anderson; Christian Anschutz; Philip Anschutz; Nancy Anschutz; Wil Armstrong; Bill Artist; Bob Bach; Don Bain; Hon. Bob Balink; Adele Balink; Hon. David Balmer; Kelly Barlean; Mike Beasley; Claudia Beauprez; Jeff Been; Brenda Been; Mike Bennett; D’Ann Bennett; Honorable Gayle Berry; Hon.Tillie Bishop; Ernie Blake; Sharon Magness Blake; David Boyles; Ginny Boyles; Hon. Laura Bradford; Bob Brooks; John C. Buckley, III; Melinda Buckley, III; Jed Burnam; Joanne Burnam; Linda Campbell; Dick Campbell; Dorothy Campbell; Barb Card; John Carson; Barry Clark; Melissa Clark; Jeff Crawford; Sam DePizzol; Shelly DePizzol; George Dibble; Ilene Dibble; Jamie Duke; Meg Duke; Mike Edy; Honorable Troy Eid; John Fuller; Charlie Gallagher; Allen Ginsborg; Jeanne Ginsborg; Jamie Hamilton; Honorable Mark Hillman; Randall L. Hoffman; Tom Honig; Bill Hybl; Honorable Kyle H. Hybl; Doak Jacoway; Karen Samuels; Jones Walter; A. (Buz) Koelbel Jr.; Sherri Koelbel; Phil Kelly; Jack Kim; Jeanne Kim; John Kivimaki; Marge Klei; Brig. Gen. (ret.) Steve Lanning; Peter M. Leahy; Aine McCarthy; Marc R. Levy; Sharon Linhart; Hon. Larry Liston; Jeff Marchant; Karen Samuels; MarchantMort Marks; Edie Marks; Roberta Martinez; Lanny Martin; Hon. Frank McNulty; David McReynolds; Ed McVaney; Carole McVaney; John Mencer; Sue Mencer; Bill Moloney; Wayne Murdy; Hon. Jim Nicholson; Suzanne Nicholson; Brett O’Donnell; Frances Owens; Bill Pauls; Verna Pauls; Chris Paulson; Byron Rayburn; J.W. RothKilyn Roth; Hon. Janet Rowland; John Saeman; Carol Saeman; James W. Sanderson; Denise M. Sanderson; Jack Schreiber; Linda Schreiber; Harold Smethill; Diane Smethills; Jeff Smith; Antonette DeLauro Smith; ,Mitchell L. Solich; Barb Solich; Dr. Pete Spence; Hon. Nancy Spence; Hon. Amy Stephens; Hon. Scott Tipton; Kristin Todd; Gilbert Valdez; Lillian Valdez; Dell Van Gilder, Jr.; Greg Walcher Diana Walcher; Hon. Mark Waller; Debbie Welle-Powell; Britt Weygandt; Marti Phillips Whitmore; Yeullin Willett; Peter Willis; Robin Wise; Jeff Woodhouse; and Celia Woodhouse.