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Wake-Up Call: Democratic Déjà vu all over again

In December 2008, would-be candidates -- a dozen of them, by casual count -- were all counting on Governor Bill Ritter appointing Denver mayor John Hickenlooper to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar, a move that would opened up the top job in City Hall.

Ritter went with Michael Bennet instead, but that didn't extinguish the hopes of those who'd like to be Denver mayor. And those hopes were raised again Tuesday, as word started leaking out that Ritter would not be running for a second term.

Five hours after Ritter made it official yesterday, Hickenlooper held his own press conference, where he acknowledged that he's looking at the governor's race -- a race he considered back in 2005, when party insiders were looking for someone, anyone, other than Ritter to run. Hickenlooper says that his decision would depend on what Ken Salazar does, and that he should have a decision within a week.

But the men (and women) who would be mayor aren't putting their ambitions on hold. Already they're putting together campaign teams, analyzing their chance of winning this game of political dominoes that Ritter has set in motion.

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