DeGette, Fitz-Gerald and Miles insist they’re viable Senate candidates, too

In separate news accounts Thursday, three prominent Colorado Democrats decried a rush to anoint the state’s next senator from among a handful of contenders, who all happen to be men who already hold elected office. Gov. Bill Ritter will appoint a replacement for fellow Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar, who was nominated earlier this week to serve as secretary of the Interior.

Rep. Diana DeGette, who has represented Denver in Congress since 1994, told a Denver Post editorial board it was “ridiculous” that Colorado hasn’t had a woman senator or governor and blasted the “chattering class” for failing to “seriously consider any of the women candidates.”

Politics West posted a video excerpt from DeGette’s interview:

In the discussion about the Senate vacancy, DeGette also addressed concerns she could be considered “too liberal” to win statewide election, charging a leading contender from Denver is “at least as liberal,” according to the Post’s Steven Keating:

“The pundits say, well, Diana is from Denver and she’s too liberal to run statewide. John Hickenlooper, who’s the mayor of Denver, is the front-runner. It’s like … hmmmm. And I love John. But frankly I would bet you — he doesn’t have a Congressional voting record — but if you look at some of the things he’s done, he’s probably at least as liberal as me.”

Former Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, who lost a congressional primary in August after leaving the Legislature to campaign, said she contacted Ritter Thursday and expressed an interest in the appointment. “Being president of the [state] Senate gave me a statewide perspective on a lot of things,” she told The Boulder Daily Camera.

Mike Miles, who lost a primary against Salazar in 2004, told The Rocky Mountain News he wants the job but sounded resigned to also-ran status. “It will be a political decision,” Miles wrote in an e-mail to supporters quoted by the Rocky, “and the political insiders will once again mount a campaign to reward one of their own.”

The “chattering class” has generally discussed Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, outgoing House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Salazar’s brother, Rep. John Salazar, and DeGette as the most likely possibilities to replace Salazar.

Other possibilities in the running include former Denver mayor and Clinton Cabinet official Federico Pena, outgoing House Majority Leader Alice Madden, Senate Majority Leader Peter Groff, former Senate candidate Tom Strickland, State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet and Ritter, who could appoint himself, though few believe that’s likely.

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Ernest Luning

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