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CO-Gov: Salazar Won’t Run, Endorses Denver Mayor Hickenlooper

January 8th, 2010, 04:01 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Despite having the White House’s permission to quit his Interior Secretary post, Ken Salazar has decided to stay put, and won’t be running to fill the seat being vacated by Gov. Bill Ritter.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will not enter the race for Colorado governor and will endorse Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper for the post….

“Colorado needs a strong, experienced leader with optimism and new ideas for carrying our state forward. That is why I am endorsing John Hickenlooper for Governor of Colorado,” Salazar said in a statement. “John Hickenlooper is a uniter. He transcends political and geographic divides to bring people together to develop solutions. If he decides to run, he will make an excellent Governor for the State of Colorado.”

Hickenlooper has not been reached for comment.

The Democratic mayor said yesterday that he would wait for a decision from Salazar before deciding whether to enter the race.

Hickenlooper is the extremely popular Mayor of Denver, and now that Salazar as turned the bid down, is almost certain to run. Recent Rasmussen polling on Colorado is typically down on the Dems, but showed Hickenlooper performing better than Salazar against the likely Republican in the race.

The poll shows likely Republican nominee Scott McInnis beating Salazar 47%-41%.

Salazar has emerged as the most likely candidate to replace Governor Bill Ritter, who announced Wednesday he would not be running for reelection in 2010. However, Rasmussen showed Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, another prospective candidate, losing by only three points, 45%-42%. The poll also found Hickenlooper’s favorability rating to be 5 points higher than Salazar’s.

That favorable rating is high, 57 percent.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) has also been tossed around as a potential candidate, but given that Salazar has expressly endorsed Hickenlooper, his entrance seems highly unlikely now. Despite the fact that he’s the Denver mayor, and the rest of the state–particularly more rural areas–tends to grouse about those Denver politicians, Hickenlooper is popular statewide.

We’ll have a Daily Kos poll on the race next week.

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