Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Ken Salazar: Democrats holding Senate might've been easier if he hadn't taken Obama's job offer

Tired of the endless Ken Buck/Michael Bennet attack ads that have made it unsafe to turn on your television for the past month? Blame Barack Obama, who pulled Ken Salazar from his spot in the U.S. Senate and put him in the cabinet as the Secretary of the Interior. How's that working out for you, Ken?

Sure, if Obama hadn't asked Salazar to join his administration, the incumbent senator would be facing a challenger right now. But it might not have been Buck, who fourteen months ago was even thinking of dropping out of a primary race against Jane Norton and Ryan Frazier; he eventually defeated Norton, while Frazier decided to switch for a run in the seventh congressional district. And for Salazar, even a tough re-election campaign would have to look good compared to the other challenges he's faced in the past 22 months, including battling the BP spill in the Gulf -- and then battling all the bad press the administration's slow response engendered.

If Salazar hadn't left his Senate seat, there would have been no opening for Governor Bill Ritter to fill -- and Michael Bennet might still be superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, rather than an incumbent tagged with an "insider" tag. And Andrew Romanoff, already passed over by Ritter for the Colorado Secretary of State's office, might have run for governor instead of the Senate -- which would mean that, when Ritter decided not to run last January, the Democrats would have already had a back-up candidate in place.

And today, John Hickenlooper might be sitting in his office in City Hall, contemplating a third term as mayor.

If.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Election day warning: Quit looking in the mailbox -- because your ballot's not coming."

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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