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Ken Salazar won't run for governor, endorses John Hickenlooper

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Update, 12:41 p.m.: John Hickenlooper has now released a statement regarding Ken Salazar's endorsement of him as a gubernatorial candidate. Read it below the original item.

At least Ken Salazar didn't keep us guessing about his campaign intentions for long...

Today, Salazar released a statement saying he wouldn't return to Colorado to take a shot at the governor's gig -- and specifically endorsing Denver mayor John Hickenlooper. Salazar wrote: "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."

In my view, Salazar wouldn't have named this particular name if the fix wasn't in -- meaning that Hickenlooper has definitely decided to run for gov. Additionally, it suggests that the other potential Democratic candidates, including Ed Perlmutter and Andrew Romanoff, will quickly close ranks behind Hickenlooper, echoing the way Republicans united to back Scott McInnis, thereby squelching a potential run by Tom Tancredo.

Next question: Will Hickenlooper step away from the mayor's office to campaign? If so, that'll likely lead to a whole batch of hopefuls dashing forward to declare their interest in the mayoral gig. Let the wild rumpus start!

Update, 12:41 p.m.: Yes, I was among the journalists who phoned Eric Brown, John Hickenlooper, after Ken Salazar namechecked his boss in a release declaring that he had no plans to run for governor. Instead of a call back, I (and no doubt others) received the e-mail below, in which Hickenlooper offers a thank you to Salazar sans an immediate declaration of candidacy. Check out the post-script as well, in which the mayor's office makes it clear that more phone calls won't elicit any answers.

Mayor Hickenlooper responds to Sec. Salazar's decision

DENVER, CO ­-- THURSDAY, Jan. 7, 2010 -- Mayor John Hickenlooper responded to Secretary Ken Salazar's announcement today:

"We are very grateful and honored for Secretary Salazar's support. Secretary Salazar is one of Colorado's finest and we greatly admire his public service. This doesn't change our course. My family and I will take the appropriate time to consider whether a run for governor is the right thing to do."

NOTE TO MEDIA: Mayor Hickenlooper will make no additional public statements about a possible run for governor until a decision is made.

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