State Treasurer Kennedy pulls name from Senate vacancy consideration

Add State Treasurer Cary Kennedy’s name to the list of Democratic politicians who are flattered to be considered but are not interested in becoming Colorado’s next U.S. senator. Kennedy was a driving force behind two statewide ballot initiatives before winning election in 2006 on a statewide ticket that included Gov. Bill Ritter, who will appoint a replacement for Sen. Ken Salazar.

On Saturday, former Denver mayor and Clinton-era Cabinet secretary Federico Peña also said he didn’t want to be considered to fill the vacancy, likely to occur early next year after Salazar is confirmed by the Senate.

Kennedy, 40, cited family concerns — she and her husband have two children, ages 9 and 11 — in a statement withdrawing her name from consideration for the appointment. “Kids are young only once, and it is a gift to raise them,” she said.

The statement released Monday by Kennedy’s office:

“Senator Salazar has been an extraordinary public servant for the citizens of Colorado, and the nation will be well served by his knowledge and expertise,” said Kennedy. “I am honored and humbled to have been considered for the appointment to Senator Salazar’s seat. But right now, with young kids, my focus and my energy is with my family. Kids are young only once, and it is a gift to raise them.” Kennedy has two young children, Kadin, 11, and Kyra, 9.

“My decision is made easier by the talented pool of people under consideration, any one of whom will serve Colorado admirably,” Kennedy said. “I look forward to continuing my work providing sound financial management for our state during these turbulent economic times.”

Kennedy’s state treasurer seat is up for re-election in 2010, the same year as the Senate seat.

Ritter has said he plans to name a replacement “quickly” — likely before the end of the year — for Salazar, who was nominated last week to be the next secretary of interior.

The Colorado state treasurer’s office has traditionally been a steppingstone to higher office, with three of the previous four politicians elected to the post moving on up. Colorado’s previous two governors — Democrat Roy Romer and Republican Bill Owens — launched their gubernatorial campaigns from the state treasurer’s office. Republican Mike Coffman took a circuitous route that involved resigning the treasurer’s post to serve in Iraq and then stepping into a secretary of state vacancy before winning a congressional seat in 2008.

State politicians under consideration for the Senate appointment include Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Diana DeGette and John Salazar (the senator’s older brother), outgoing House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, health care executive and two-time Senate candidate Tom Strickland, former Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, former U.S. attorney Henry Solano, and former Senate candidate Mike Miles, who lost a 2004 primary to Ken Salazar. Other names mentioned as possibilities include outgoing House Majority Leader Alice Madden, Senate President Peter Groff and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet. Ritter has ruled out appointing himself to the seat.