Best Scandal -- Political Denver 2004 - Senatorial hot potato
Readers' Choice: Tracy Baker and the Arapahoe County Clerk's Office
In the beginning, the Colorado campaign for the U.S. Senate was looking about as exciting as an election in pre-invasion Iraq. No one thought incumbent Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell could be defeated, least of all prominent Democrats, who treated their party's nomination like a case of SARS, to be avoided at all cost. But after Dem wild card Rutt Bridges, whose lack of name recognition was balanced by a surplus of disposable cash, finally volunteered for slaughter, all hell broke loose. First, Campbell aide Ginnie Kontnik resigned in the face of kickback accusations from former Campbell staffer Brian Thompson. Then, with a congressional investigation looming, Campbell used a case of acid reflux as rationale for retiring. His decision spawned the political equivalent of Survivor -- except in this case, the contestants were voting themselves out. Representative Mark Udall declared his candidacy one day, then undeclared the next. Bridges removed his hat from the ring, too, after Attorney General Ken Salazar, who'd previously expressed no interest in the race, changed his mind. That move, of course, was inspired by somewhat-freshly separated Governor Bill Owens just saying no, followed by a laundry list of conservative politicos -- including Bob Beauprez, Mike Coffman, Tom Tancredo and Jane Norton -- doing the same, leaving ex-Congressman Bob Schaffer as the last Republican standing.
The way it looks now, Salazar will snag the seat for the Democratic Party. Which is only fair, since Nighthorse Campbell was the one who took it away from the Dems a decade ago, when he changed political horses mid-term.