Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

John Elway for Senate? Pollsters tested that two years ago

The playbook in which John Elway makes a run for Colorado governor may not be mythical.

That's according to one person who commented on yesterday's "John Elway for Governor?" post. The claim: A polling firm actually asked about that possibility a few weeks ago.

"Among the detailed questions was a hypothetical about whom i would vote for if the race were between Hickenlooper and Elway," the commenter wrote. "When i heard Elway's name i burst out laughing."

I haven't yet tracked down that poll, but in July 2008, Public Policy Polling included John Elway in a poll on the 2010 U.S. Senate race -- in which the presumptive Democratic and Republican candidates were the incumbent, Senator Ken Salazar, and former governor Bill Owens!

What a difference two years makes: At the time, Michael Bennet, then the superintendent of Denver Public Schools, and Ken Buck, the Weld County District Attorney, didn't even register as blips on the political radar.

Here was PPP's take at the time:

Ken Salazar could have a tough race on his hands if former Governor Bill Owens decides to challenge him for the Senate in 2010. Owens polled within the margin of error in a hypothetical match up, and Salazar's approval rating is not where he would want it to be.

Just for fun, PPP also tested former Broncos star John Elway against Salazar, but he doesn't poll as well. Although Elway does as well against Salazar as Owens does among Democratic voters, only 64% of Republicans say they would support him compared to 76% who say they would vote for Owens if he became a candidate.

Today, Owens shows no signs of being eager to re-enter public life, and Salazar, now the Secretary of the Interior overseeing the BP spill cleanup, among other disasters, must have days when he looks longingly at his once-safe Senate seat.

As for Elway? Well, he could be within scoring distance of the Governor's Mansion.

By the way, the Devil's Advocate show with Jon Caldara in which I make the Elway prediction airs tonight at 8:30 p.m. on Channel 12.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun