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Wake-Up Call: An end to musical chairs

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Ken Salazar has been sworn in as Secretary of the Interior. Michael Bennet is now a U.S. senator. Tom Boasberg is taking over as superintendent of Denver Public Schools, promising to "accelerate reform."

That leaves just one more chair to fill -- the U.S. Attorney's seat vacated by Republican Troy Eid -- and a tidy way to tie up a loose end. Last week, then-senator Salazar and Mark Udall sent three names to Barack Obama as their choices for the top federal attorney in the state. We're betting Obama goes for Stephanie Villafuerte, breaking the recent string of white-guy appointments. But Villafuerte has other things going for her, including her background as both an assistant U.S. attorney and a deputy in the Denver DA's office, as well as her current position as Governor Bill Ritter's deputy chief of staff.

Which means if she moves on, that will leave a spot open -- and the clear choice to move in is Andrew Romanoff. Might seem a slight comedown for the former speaker of the Colorado House. But then, former Senate candidate Tom Strickland jumped at the chance to dump his big salary as a corporate lawyer to become Salazar's chief of staff at Interior. Besides, Romanoff is devoted to public service -- and there's no greater service he could perform right now than helping Ritter deal with the very hard choices that his office, and the legislature, will have to make as they crunch budget numbers.

The crunch is so tough that Ritter has postponed today's scheduled unveiling of next year's budget (which starts July 1) until next Tuesday. It's unlikely that the game of musical chairs will have ended by then. But the time is right for a conciliatory call to Romanoff, already passed over by Ritter for both the Colorado Secretary of State's spot and Salazar's Senate seat.

Third time could be a charm.

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