Wake-Up Call: Who's on (the) first?

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

A few weeks ago, Diana DeGette, Colorado's representative for the 1st Congressional District, had lunch with Ken Salazar, the Colorado senator who'd early on been rumored to be in the running for a position in the Barack Obama cabinet. "No, it's not going to happen," he told her.

Yesterday, it happened: Obama named Salazar as the next Secretary of the Interior.

The rumors that Salazar was back in the mix surfaced a few days ago -- and that's when DeGette's phone started ringing. As the senior member of Colorado's nine-member congressional delegation, she was an obvious candidate to be considered for Salazar's soon-to-be-empty Senate seat. And that, of course, would leave her spot in the very safely Democratic Denver district wide open.

None of those callers told her flat-out that they'd like her seat, DeGette says. "But I'm sure several were interested."

And is DeGette interested in moving on to the Senate? On Tuesday, she talked with Governor Bill Ritter, who will appoint Salazar's successor, and told him she's planning to "look closely at this position." There are two major considerations for Ritter to consider in his succession plan, she points out: Who can represent the entire state, and who can get re-elected in two years -- and raise the $10 million to $15 million that will be required for a campaign in 2010.

Then there's the fact that DeGette is the only member of the state's congressional delegation in a leadership position, and that's not a spot to give up lightly. "We have a really new delegation," she points out. "We need to figure out the best thing for Colorado." And after all her time in the House, with Obama in office she's finally in a position to really push some of her major concerns -- stem-cell research, children's health care, health-care reform, global climate change and a wilderness bill she's been working on since 1999.

And before she'd make a play for the Senate seat, DeGette would also need to consider her family, since the upcoming campaign would involve a lot of travel across the state.

But it's the time, not the territory, that's the issue. Although pundits have pointed out that DeGette could never get elected in a statewide contest because "she's too liberal," DeGette has a fast answer for that. Mark Udall was labeled as the most liberal politician in the state by Republican Bob Schaffer in the 2008 Senate race -- and Udall beat him by more than ten points. -- Patricia Calhoun

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.