Romanoff joins crowded Colorado Senate primary
Associated Press Writer
PUEBLO, Colorado – Democrat Andrew Romanoff joined a crowded field Wednesday in his party’s primary, saying Colorado deserves a U.S. senator who is elected, not appointed.
Romanoff, a former state legislator, told party supporters in Pueblo he would earn the seat at the polls and wage a harder fight for Democratic ideals than Sen. Michael Bennet.
Without mentioning Bennet by name, Romanoff went straight to the reason Bennet is unliked by some Democrats: He was chosen by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter to fill a vacancy and has never before held elected office.
“This contest ought to be decided not by a tap on the shoulder but by actual voters – especially voters who live in Colorado,” Romanoff said in an apparent reference to Bennet’s sizable fundraising lead of about $2.6 million, mostly from out-of-state contributors.
The line drew cheers for the 80 people gathered for the speech.
Bennet, a former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, was appointed to fill the final two years of Ken Salazar’s term after he left the Senate to become secretary of the Department of the Interior.
Bennet was little known outside Denver before his appointment, He has kept up a grueling schedule of statewide meet-and-greets in his first few months in office, but some Democrats remain skeptical of him.
Romanoff, 43, also from Denver, was in the state Legislature for eight years, four as House speaker. He left office earlier this year because of term limits.
Bennet’s campaign has not commented on Romanoff’s candidacy.
Republicans seeking the office include former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who started her campaign Tuesday.
In Romanoff’s first campaign speech, he laid out boilerplate Democratic themes – support for education, clean energy and the working class. He also sought to gain support from Democrats unhappy with Bennet’s perceived centrism.
Bennet has said many times that he supports a government health insurance option as part of health care reform. But some Democrats gripe he hasn’t ruled out any plan that does not have the option.
“I don’t need to take a poll to take a position,” Romanoff said about the issue. “If you spend too much time sitting on fences, all you get are splinters.”
The approach appealed to Democrats who attended the speech.
“I think it’s good for the party to have a debate about priorities,” said Bruce Boreson of Pueblo, a retired attorney.
Boreson said he’s unhappy that Bennet has said he would vote for a union-backed bill making it easier to organize. The issue hasn’t come before the Senate but there has been lobbying by both sides.
“I guess I would just prefer stronger positions,” Boreson said.
Romanoff planned other speeches in Colorado Springs and Denver on Wednesday.
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