With Mike May out, who will lead Colorado’s GOP House minority?

UPDATE: Who says politicians can’t change their minds? This afternoon, May announced that, due to unspecified “outside influences” potentially attempting to interfere with the leadership election, he won’t be retiring — at least right away — after all. May’s full statement appears after the jump.

Big talk of the week has shifted to who would replace Sen. Ken Salazar after he, in what is looking like a done deal, leaves his Senate seat to lead the Interior Department. But days after Colorado House Minority Leader Mike May announced he was stepping down, there’s no word yet on who might lead Republicans in the House into the new year. Among the top contenders to emerge: Reps. David Balmer, Frank McNulty and Amy Stephens.

On Friday, May, of Parker, announced he is leaving the Legislature before his final term even starts, to focus on his hotel business during tough economic times.

May’s decision “was completely unexpected,” Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, told the Colorado Statesman. “I don’t think anyone thought that something like this could happen.”

The Statesman and other outlets reported that Balmer, currently the assistant minority leader from Centennial (known for his ability to raise money), and Rep. Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch (considered a rising GOP star) are pounding the pavement for support. The Rocky Mountain News added Amy Stephens, the minority caucus chairwoman from Monument (“well-liked and conservative”), to that list.

All are members of the conservative Republican Study Committee of Colorado, which describes itself as modeled after the Republican Study Committee of the U.S. Congress, which is committed to “advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives.”

In all, 25 Republican legislators are members or officers of the Republican Study Committee of Colorado, including May, the outgoing minority leader.

UPDATE: The following is the three-sentence statement that Mike May issued announcing his decision to “delay” his retirement:

“Today I have made the difficult decision to temporarily delay my retirement from the House because of my sense of duty to the members of the Republican caucus. With the possibility that outside influences may have attempted to interfere with the leadership election, and the reality of a delayed election, I do not feel that now would be an appropriate time to leave.

“I will remain the representative of House District 44 and will continue to serve as minority leader until this situation has been resolved, as long as that may take.”…