DENVER– Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff minutes ago announced that he was rededicated to his primary campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. He told a crowd of roughly sixty people gathered outside his campaign headquarters here that he called this fraught press conference only to “clear the air,” explaining that he had received hundreds of emails and phone calls over the past week urging him to drop his Senate bid to run for governor in the wake of news that Gov. Bill Ritter would not seek a second term. Politics watchers in the state expected he might declare that he planned to run as lieutenant governor on a ticket topped by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Romanoff sought to put an end to any speculation along those lines.
“I am running for U.S. Senate,” he said. “I will not accept any other job offers.”
Romanoff said he was proud of the campaign he had waged so far, addressing widespread criticism in the press for the low-key, even half-hearted, nature of his campaign, including a piece by the national site Politico that suggested Romanoff’s star was fading.
He said that he was the “people’s candidate” and would continue to run a “people-powered campaign.” He repeated earlier assertions that he would take no special interest money. He said his contributions have come strictly from individual donors. He stressed the grassroots nature of his campaign.
It was a point brought home in Romanoff style when he answered in Spanish a question put to him by a member of the Latino media.
As the Colorado Independent reported in December, Romanoff announced then that he would not be taking Political Action Committee contributions.
“I plan on leading by example,” he told supporters at the Auroria campus in Denver. He said that the need to raise vast sums of campaign money leads politicians away from their constituents and into the hands of a “rogues gallery” of corporate representatives. “The way I’m going to get elected to the U.S. Senate, I hope, is by talking to my constituents in Colorado. That doesn’t happen very often anymore.”
Romanoff said that Colorado politicians are being led by advisers to increasingly seek contributions from people and groups across the country, on the East Coast and West Coast. He said campaign advertising time should be limited and given for free to dilute the power of special interests.
“Somebody said that the Senate is the place that good ideas go to die. There is a reason for that and in part it’s because a lot of the wealthiest interest groups, which stand to lose the most from the proposals we need [to pass], are subsidizing decisions.”
“One of the reasons we do not have single-payer [health care] plan on the table is because it doesn’t serve the needs of the health insurance companies who are subsidizing the health care committees in Congress making the rules.”
Romanoff told the Colorado Independent that he would try to be an exception to the rules of the game as they stand to demonstrate that they can be changed.
The Colorado Independent is continuing to report from today’s announcement. Updates to come.