Ritter Withdraws


Governor Bill Ritter will not seek re-election.  The stead dripdripdrip of bad news seems to have driven him from the race.

It seems as though at least two of these stories are connected, with the possibility that Ritter was using his personal cellphone for state business, and then shielding that usage from public scrutiny in order to hide his affair.  Of course, it could also be that he’s not enjoying the job, isn’t very good at it, and has had enough.  We’ll know more tomorrow.

From the Republican side, the assumption is that CoDA has already named his successor in the race, and that it will be either for House Speaker Andrew Romanoff or Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, both of whom have fairly high positives and a campaign base to draw from in heavily-Democrat Denver.  Ross Kaminsky analyzes the options here.  It’s a good piece, but I think he gives Romanoff too little credit, and Hickenlooper too much.

Romanoff is already a statewide figure, with connections on the western slope and down south that Hickenlooper doesn’t really have.  He was in the process of running a statewide race, and now won’t have the sitgma of attacking a sitting Democrat.  On the other hand, he’s been running to Bennet’s left in this race, and now owns those positions, which might undermine his reputation as a moderate consensus-builder.  And he was the father of the failed Amendment 59, which would have gutted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to fund the Teachers Unions.

Hickenlooper, on the other hand, has a Denver handicap that Romanoff has already overcome.  Denver doesn’t scale well to the rest of the state.  It bears roughly the same relationship to the eastern plains, the high country, and the western slope that NYC has to upstate and Long Island – people don’t much trust Denver.  They may well vote against a Denver mayor more quickly.  There’s a reason that Colorado governors come from the legislature, and not from the Denver mayor’s office.

Denver mayors have more power than Colorado governors when it comes to budgeting, which might actually strengthen the argument for a fiscally conservative Republican legislature, in a year when there are any number of already-vulnerable Dems.  Denver isn’t a basket-case, to be sure.  But it has benefitted greatly from the Democrats’ car tax in order to stay sane.  If Hickenlooper is the nominee, Republican City Councilman Jeanne Fatz will probably become veyr popular very quickly as a speaker on hidden lunacy in Denver’s budget.  And Denver’s share of the Stimulus Money will also come under closer scrutiny.

There’s an assumption that either Romanoff or Hickenlooper would make things harder on a Denver Republican party struggling to recover from years of decline.  But if Hickenlooper is the nominee, the focus on his record from the McInnis campaign may actually end up helping us out.

So my money’s on CoDA nominating their old bag man, Romanoff.

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