Wake-Up Call: An open Senate seat means more musical chairs

At parties and openings, all the talk is about who's going to take Ken Salazar's seat in the U.S. Senate -- it's a lot more fun than talking about the economy -- and what spot might then open up. If outgoing Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff gets the nod, there's no game of musical chairs, because he won't leave a vacancy. If Diana DeGette leaves the House for the Senate, there would suddenly be a slot open in the coveted 1st Congressional District, a safe seat for just about any Democrat. If Ed Perlmutter moves up, that would open up a less-safe seat in the seventh. And if John Hickenlooper gets tapped, potential mayoral candidates will be scrambling to get in position for a May election.

Aside from Romanoff, just about the only person Governor Bill Ritter could nominate without causing much of a ripple would be Ritter himself, because Lieutenant Governor Barbara O'Brien would automatically move into the Governor's office. But the chances that Ritter would nominate himself are slim and none. In fact, a more interesting question is how Ritter will determine who to nominate. After all, this is a governor who was so cautious that when he had to fill the $60,000 a year Colorado Secretary of State position, he named a task force. (For a cogent analysis of this, check out the new Imagine a Great Election website.) A U.S. Senate seat is a much bigger prize -- and given all the shenigans in Illinois, Colorado's replacement process will have to be a lot more transparent (and considerably cheaper). -- Patricia Calhoun

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