Ending more than a month of fevered speculation, former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff said Tuesday he won’t jump into the race for a newly competitive 6th Congressional District.
Saying up front that he never had plans to run for the seat, the Denver Democrat said several months of ardent lobbying from state and national backers weren’t enough to persuade him to run.
“The timing is not right for me,” Romanoff told The Colorado Statesman.
After losing a primary bid against U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet last year, Romanoff took a job as senior advisor to the Lakewood-based International Development Enterprises, a nonprofit that fights world poverty.
Romanoff’s decision leaves state Rep. Joe Miklosi, a Denver Democrat, as the only declared challenger to U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican. Coffman has served two terms in Congress and was elected three times to statewide office, as state treasurer and secretary of state. Miklosi has said he plans to move into the new district next month.
A source close to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said the organization wanted Romanoff to consider running for the seat. The pressure only ramped up after it looked like Coffman’s district would change from one dominated by Republicans to an evenly divided district either party could win.
Romanoff wouldn’t say which organizations tried to talk him into running but said he heard from both Colorado and Washington, D.C.-based supporters who thought he would be the strongest candidate to take on Coffman.
“They’ve been calling me about this the last several months, more intensively the last several weeks,” he said. “I got so many calls from so many people I respect that I thought, well, I’ll let them make their case. In the end, I didn’t change my mind.”
Asked about Miklosi’s campaign — launched in July, when the district’s boundaries were still unknown — Romanoff said he’d be happy to help out Miklosi, who happened to work for Romanoff at the statehouse before winning his southeast Denver legislative seat.
“I think he’ll do a good job,” Romanoff said. “I’ll support him.”
The Miklosi campaign seized upon similar statements reported in the press and quickly trumpeted that he’d won Romanoff’s endorsement.
“Andrew is one of the finest public servants this state has ever produced. It’s an honor and a privilege to receive his endorsement,” said Miklosi in a statement. “I look forward to running a vigorous campaign focused on job creation and making Colorado the Renewable Energy Capitol of the country.”
Though Romanoff admitted he sometimes misses the campaign trail and the political life — and didn’t rule out running for office again in the near future — he said the decision about this race was easy.
“For me, it’s a matter of personal timing. I certainly haven’t lost my desire to make a difference, and I hope I’m doing that now in the work I’m doing,” he said.
That work includes launching a technology incubator called the Greenhouse Project, meant to bring together innovators to solve problems in international development. He said to expect word on that project’s next steps in the coming month.
“I have a lot of fire in the belly to make a difference,” Romanoff said, “and there’s a lot of ways to do that. Public office has been one path for me in the past, and it will be again, but for me it’s not the right time.”
Recalling something he told students when he taught classes at Aurora Community College, Romanoff said he’d recently realized he’s been taking his own advice.
“If you can find a place that pays you to get up in the morning and try to make your community and the larger world a better place to live, you should seize that opportunity,” he said he would offer to anyone pondering the future. “I have that job now.”