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It’s dangerous to run in Colorado

2006 governor’s race already heating up

By Leigh E. Rich

The election judges have barely put their away badges and Coloradans are already stretching for the next race, sure to be as exciting and exhausting as the run for Colorado’s open Senate seat in 2004.

Though we’ve barely rung in the New Year and the new legislative session, folks have begun to look toward 2006.

By then, Gov. Bill Owens will be on his way out and the state Republicans are hoping to be on their way back in—in both the governor’s mansion and the Statehouse.

“We’re certainly going to learn, frankly, from what our Democratic colleagues did,” Sen. Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, told Aaron Harber last week during a taping of his weekly KBDI Channel 12 show.

Hillman, now Senate minority leader, said part of the winning equation is making sure Republican incumbents and Republican challengers are “better and better funded” than the Dems and “more in touch with the people.”

“You learn from your mistakes,” Rep. Joe Stengel, R-Littleton, admitted on the air. “Clearly, our party made some mistakes,” such as focusing on the national, rather than the local, ticket.

One can sure bet there have been GOP meetings since Nov. 3 on how to win back the Statehouse that was snatched this election season by the Dems.

And as for the governor’s chair, Statehouse leadership is hesitant to go on the record just yet.

“I’m going with you, Aaron,” new House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, jokingly answered Harber’s question as to who might be a good pick for gov. “You’re looking tan (and) rested.”

When pushed to the studio wall about who he thinks might make potential GOP candidates, the Democratic House speaker pointed to the usual suspects: Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, Treasurer Mike Coffman, some former members of Congress, and University of Denver President Marc Holtzman.

Hillman also added U.S. Reps. Bob Beauprez, R-7th CD, and Mark Udall, D-2nd CD, to that list.

“Udall’s name comes up pretty frequently,” now Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, said, calling the congressman engaging and able to embrace a statewide perspective. Oh, and capable of raising the dough it would take.

As for new House Minority Leader Joe Stengel, R-Littleton, he told Harber he’s going with “Speaker-elect Romanoff. He’s young, good looking and has a great future (ahead of) him.”

Seriously, Stengel said, “It’s early. There’s going to be a lot more names.”

And if the race for governor is anything like the one to replace former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, candidates ought to get an early jumpstart.

The running track could be crowded and, like Bob Schaffer, one could easily get run over. 

Rich, L, E. (2005, January 21). It’s dangerous to run in Colorado: 2006 governor’s race already heating up. The Colorado Statesman.

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