After five Democratic governors found themselves in a position to appoint “fully five percent of the Senate” after the 2008 election, only Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter earned high marks, Matt Cooper assesses at Talking Points Memo DC.
Senate vacancies opened up after Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden won a ticket to the White House. Once there, Obama picked New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar and New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg for his Cabinet. (Gregg, a Republican, said he would take the job if the state’s Democratic governor agreed to appoint a Republican replacement. Then, under pressure from GOP leaders, Gregg backed out and kept his Senate seat.) Each of the vacancies would be filled by appointment by the states’ governors — all of them Democrats.
TPM DC isn’t impressed with what ensued:
The results have been an embarrassment for the Democratic party, easily the most they-can’t-run-a-two-car-parade moment since the Michigan-Florida debacle. The appointments have managed to combine voters’ worst impressions of the Democrats: corruption, racial pandering, and general goofiness.
Cooper visits the question as the viability of Obama’s replacement, Sen. Roland Burris, unravels and the junior senator from Illinois’ Democratic colleagues pull their support. Burris, remember, landed the nod after Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested amid accusations he tried to auction off the appointment and later wound up impeached and thrown from office, all while quoting Tennyson.
There are obviously different degrees of botching it with the laughably corrupt Rod Blagjevich’s [sic] appointment of the laughably likely corrupt Roland Burris being the worst. David Paterson’s brief exercise in Kennedy lore didn’t exactly distinguish the New York governor. In Delaware, Ruth Ann Miner appointed Ted Kaufman to take Joe Biden’s seat. Kaufman is a long-time aide to the Biden’s [sic] and his appointment is seen as a mere placeholder for Beau Biden, the vice president’s son, to run for the seat. Appointing Beau Biden now would have been seen as too crass.
Gregg gets the blame for his own in-and-out fiasco, but Ritter gets a thumbs-up because Cooper says he can vouch for Salazar’s replacement:
Finally, you have to say that the most seamless appointment was Bill Ritter’s tapping Michael Bennet to fill Ken Salazar’s seat in Colorado. I’m friends with Bennet’s brother, James, the Atlantic editor, and I think he’ll be a great senator and has a decent chance of holding on to the seat. You have to give Ritter the highest marks
Not everyone agrees.
Democratic activist Wade Norris, who has been agitating from the sidelines for former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to challenge Bennet in a primary, announced Thursday afternoon he’s organizing an “Andrew Romanoff for Senate 2010” table at the Colorado Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson dinner March 7 in Denver. Since starting a Facebook group supporting Romanoff, Norris notes that “several people have spoken to me to let me know that there is growing support” for a primary challenge to Bennet. That wouldn’t include Romanoff, who remains mum on the subject.
Thursday night, the unofficial Romanoff 2010 Facebook group had 47 members, compared with 586 members of a group supporting Bennet.
As for Romanoff himself? He’s “being maddeningly coy about his plans,” Lynn Bartels reports Thursday in the Rocky Mountain News legislative blog.
The question often asked in political circles is whether Romanoff will primary Bennet in 2010 or possibly even the governor himself. Some insist he will, others insist he won’t.
What’s Romanoff say to any question about 2010 or his political future?
“I’m looking forward to teaching,” he answered, no matter how the question was phrased.
Romanoff, who has taught for years at the Community College of Aurora, is discussing a teaching job at the University of Colorado-Denver’s school for public policy, Bartels reports.