Colorado governor wants you to help pick new U.S. Senator
DENVER, Colorado ” Colorado’s governor won’t set up a panel to vet a replacement for Sen. Ken Salazar ” but he’s asking the public to suggest favorites via the Internet.
Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter is looking for someone to replace Salazar, a Democrat who will abandon the last two years of his term after being named President-elect Barack Obama’s Interior Secretary.
Ritter told reporters Thursday he has no plans to set up a task force to review candidates for the Senate job, expected to come open early next year pending Salazar’s confirmation by the Senate. Ritter said he’ll make the decision alone.
“There’s no short list ” there’s no list,” Ritter said.
“The only person I know who’s taken himself out of the running is me,” he added, saying he would not appoint himself to the Senate.
However, the governor’s office asked for public suggestions Thursday. Ritter created an e-mail address ” email@example.com ” where folks can suggest a new senator.
Two of Colorado’s Democratic members of Congress ” Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Denver’s western suburbs ” have publicly expressed interest in the job.
Also under discussion are Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, term-limited State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and Rep. John Salazar of western Colorado, Ken Salazar’s brother, among others.
Ritter has talked about the selection only briefly since Salazar’s nomination was announced Wednesday. Whoever replaces Salazar will have to stand for re-election in 2010, when Salazar’s term was to expire.
Ritter’s choice likely will be the least controversial of the three Senate seats expected to be filled by gubernatorial appointment in the next couple months.
In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Rob Blagojevich has been accused by federal authorities of seeking bribes in exchange for his appointment to fill the remaining two years on Obama’s Senate term.
There is also intense attention to the search for a new senator in New York, where Sen. Hillary Clinton will become secretary of state pending confirmation. New York Gov. David Paterson’s choices include Caroline Kennedy, who wants to join her uncle, Ted Kennedy, in the Senate but faces questions about the tax status of a charity she helps run.
Colorado lawmakers say Ritter’s choice will be easy compared to the scrutiny certain in New York and Illinois. State Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, says there’s little need for Ritter to rely on a panel of advisers.
“There’s only so many people who could reasonably be on any list,” Rice said. “He’d probably know anyone of the stature to be a United States senator.”
Salazar’s aides have said the incoming secretary won’t speak publicly about who he thinks should replace him.
Salazar intends to stay in the Senate until his confirmation hearings are complete, which could take several weeks.