Ritter solicits comments from public on Senate replacement for Salazar

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter welcomed public comment on his selection of a replacement for Sen. Ken Salazar, who was nominated Wednesday to be President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of interior. “I will act as quickly as possible to name a successor for Sen. Salazar,” Ritter said in a statement Thursday, unveiling an e-mail address the state’s residents can use to communicate their views on filling the vacancy.

Salazar’s office has said he doesn’t intend to resign his seat until he’s confirmed for the interior post by the Senate — likely by the middle of next month, after the Senate swears in on Jan. 6 — but Ritter could name a replacement well before the vacancy actually occurs. Ritter’s office hasn’t said if the governor has established a schedule or decided when he’ll make the appointment other than to say “he will move quickly, deliberately and thoughtfully.”

Ritter has moved anything but quickly to fill another anticipated vacancy created by Secretary of State Mike Coffman’s election to Congress. First, the governor appointed a seven-member commission on Nov. 6 to review potential applicants, then solicited applications (there were 20, including one handwritten on graph paper), and has been, perhaps “deliberately and thoughtfully” considering the three finalists since Dec. 9. (One of the finalists, outgoing House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, is considered a top contender to fill the Senate vacancy.) Ritter’s office set up an e-mail for Coloradans to comment on that selection too. A Ritter spokesman said the governor hoped to announce a final decision by early January, but Friday morning Ritter announced he was picking outgoing state Rep. Bernie Buescher, who was defeated in his bid for re-election last month.

Readers who send comments to Ritter on the Senate vacancy are encouraged to copy their comments to The Colorado Independent. We’ll post some of the more provocative comments next week.

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