Simultaneously with his nomination to become Colorado’s newest U.S. senator, Michael Bennet unveiled BennetforColorado.com, a campaign Web site aimed at winning re-election to the seat in 2010. The rudimentary site, labeled “under construction,” includes a sign-up form for updates and a biography of the Denver Democrat, who is currently superintendent for Denver Public Schools. There’s also a fresh endorsement from President-elect Barack Obama, who called Bennet “a breath of fresh air in Washington.”
The site put to rest speculation Bennet might dither on whether to seek a full term in the Senate. “I absolutely intend to win re-election,” he told a press conference Saturday afternoon at the Colorado State Capitol.
Republicans began circling Friday when news of Bennet’s nomination leaked. Seen as the odds-on favorite to win re-election to a second term, Salazar threw the next election up for grabs when he accepted Obama’s nomination to serve as the next secretary of the interior. Potential Republican challengers include Attorney General John Suthers, former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, former Gov. Bill Owens and outgoing U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, though Owens hasn’t commented publicly on his plans and Tancredo has indicated he might prefer to run for governor.
Bennet, who hasn’t run for office before, will have to raise an estimated $15 million over the next two years and introduce himself across the state. His background in politics and government include the last three years running DPS, two years as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s chief of staff and a stint in the Clinton Justice Department as counsel to the deputy attorney general.
Filling Ken Salazar’s boots in the US Senate is a tall order. But in selecting Michael Bennet, Governor Ritter has made an excellent choice.
Michael Bennet perfectly reflects the qualities of the ruggedly independent state he has been chosen to serve. An innovator in the public and private sectors, he has shown himself willing to challenge old thinking and stale policies.
His breakthrough work at the helm of Denver’s schools has reflected that commitment, and established Michael as one of the nation’s leading education reformers.
He will be a breath of fresh air in Washington.