Wake-Up Call: Bill Ritter's job push

Governor Bill Ritter hosted more than thirty business leaders at the Governor's Mansion yesterday for a roundtable discussion of one of his major priorities for 2010: job creation.

But Ritter had already given job creation a major push the day before, when his official announcement that he would not run for reelection triggered a sudden scramble of people looking not just at his job, but at the job of Denver mayor. And at all the jobs involved in multiple mayoral campaigns.

That scramble got more hectic with Ken Salazar's revelation that he would not run for governor -- and his endorsement of current Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, should he decide to throw his hat in the ring.

People who just a year ago were counting on Hickenlooper being selected to replace Salazar as U.S. Senator are now polishing their résumés and contacting potential staffers and consultants, hoping that Ritter's withdrawal from the race will lead to the mayor's office empty far earlier than expected. If Hickenlooper decides not to run for governor, his second term is up in 2011 -- but because Denver residents voted for an exception to the state's term-limit law, he could run for a third term, locking up City Hall for six more years.

Among the names being bandied about: just about everyone on Denver City Council, James Mejia, Chris Romer, Cole Finegan, Walter Isenberg and a host of others. The person in the toughest spot: Kelly Brough, Hickenlooper's former chief of staff, who was interested in the mayor's job last year -- but just took over as head of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce in September.

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