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December 15, 2008 05:13 PM UTC

Sen. Salazar Again Tops Interior Department "Short List"

  • by: Colorado Pols

In a reversal from the prevailing conventional wisdom on Sen. Ken Salazar’s future only two weeks ago, the Denver Post reports:

U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar is a leading contender to become President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of the Interior, two sources have confirmed.

Reuters News Service used even stronger language in a report Sunday, saying Salazar had become the top candidate for the job.

The worldwide news agency did not cite a source in putting the Colorado senator at the top of Obama’s list to lead the agency that plays a key role in issues important to Western states, such as overseeing oil and gas leases.

A source close to Obama’s transition team told The Denver Post late last week that Salazar was under consideration for the Cabinet position.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, said at the time it appeared that it was all but up to Salazar as to whether he wanted the post.

A second source close to the process also confirmed Sunday that Sala zar was a leading contender. The senator’s spokesmen did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Just last week, another Salazar sent Colorado politics spinning with the news that he was under consideration by Obama. Word emerged then that the president-elect was considering Salazar’s brother, John, who holds the 3rd District congressional seat in Colorado, for secretary of agriculture.

John Salazar’s prospects for that post seemed to dim when it was announced later in the week he was going to take a seat on the House Appropriations Committee, which sets federal spending.

The news that Ken Salazar was under consideration came as a surprise Friday to many Democratic strategists, who said they thought he was more interested in remaining in the Senate…

It seems to have been a surprise to lots of people, but as Ken’s brother Rep. John Salazar began to appear less likely for a Cabinet appointment last week, we wondered if a revisitation of Sen. Salazar at Interior was in the offing.

And sure enough–time to recalculate everything yet again.

This means you, [insert aspiring U.S. Senator here].


53 thoughts on “Sen. Salazar Again Tops Interior Department “Short List”

  1. I’ve been saying for quite some time that Ken Salazar would be appointed as SecInt.  This is a great fit for Ken, as he is both knowledgeable and passionate about the issues handled by the Interior Department.

    It is a “win-win” for progressives in Colorado, because Salazar is progressive on Interior issues (if not much else) and because his replacement is virtually certain to be more progressive than he on almost everything else.

    1. I’m hoping and praying for Representative Raul Grijalva from Arizona. His background on the environment is incredibly progressive, with an eye to making it economically feasible to protect the environment. He’s done great work with local tribes including Hopi and Navajo. His environmental record is one of the best on the Hill. He’s outstanding. And he’s from the West. And he’s Hispanic.

      He’s an incredible choice.  

  2. told those close to him that he wanted to stay in the Senate.  He also was pushing very hard for his brother to go to Ag.

    Of course in politics, things can change in a heartbeat.  I believe it has and this is now real.

    The chain reaction that a John Salazar appointment to Ag would have created in the 3rd, will by exponentially greater if Ken Salazar actually goes to Interior (which I think he will).

    Will John Salazar now go to the Senate?

    Hickenlooper?  Romanoff?  

    If Ritter thought he had his hands full sorting through those that want to be SoS, wait till the line develops for a US Senate seat.

    What are the odds, he forms a commission to forward three names to him?

    If he does that, of course, he avoids any suggestion of the Illinois syndrome.

    1. I’ll take Ritter’s method of open transparency regarding appointing a new SofState any day over the politics as usual from my home state, who is about to win top prize this year as the most corrupt statewide political machine in the Union.

      As for Salazar becoming Secretary of Interior, this would afford Ritter the opportunity to appoint a new Senator who could potentially be much more progressive than Salazar is. That would also be a nice solution for the left fringe that insists we much get rid of Salazar with a primary challenger.  

      1. I agree with your position completely. I’d rather see an open process based on an open application system than a few people in a back room making the decision or advising the Governor.

        If Senator Salazar goes to Interior, I think Senator Romanoff sounds good.

    2. So if Rep. Salazar’s appointment to the Appropriations committee was really as important for Colorado as he was claiming, how does it make sense for the Governor to appoint him to Senate?

      I think John should stay in the CD-3 seat if he really wants to give the Western Slope a voice at a national level.

      Hick still has 3 years of a mayoral term to serve out.

      Romanoff sounds pretty good to me.

      It would also make the Secretary Buescher more and more likely.

      I still think Ken will stay in the Senate, but it might be hard if his close, personal friend, the new President, calls him and gives him an offer he can’t refuse.

    3. The matter of his replacement becomes very simple: Who can win re-election? Ritter will make the appointment, but the DSCC will have a major say in who gets the nod.  

    1. Frankly, I don’t really want it to, either. She has openly stated she is retiring from political life. She has been a wonderful advocate for the state of Colorado. I’d like to see her leave on a high note, not fill a Senate seat that in two years she would probably lose.  

        1. but JFG will not be it.

          I like Alice Madden, but another Boulderite would have a tough time in 2010.

          Ken Salazar can make the argument that you should replace a hispanic with a hispanic for the sake of diversity and not just pick a white male.  A woman could help offset that argument, but I don’t know who it is.

          There is another long shot and that is former Mayor Wellington Webb.  He really wanted to be Senator before.  That is extremely unlikely, but hey, you will see all sorts of names pop up.

        2. But, off the top of my head, I can’t think of anybody that has the name recognition right now. If a woman was appointed to that seat, she has two years to build a name for herself so that’s one way to raise the recognition, I suppose.

          Qualifications wise, JFG seems a great pick. But after losing in CD2, I see her as too vulnerable.

          What about DeGette? How do you think she would she do in a race outside CD5, redstateblues? She has name recognition because of her work on stem cell research, that’s for certain. I guess I’ve always perceived her as a somewhat weak candidate outside her district but that may be a misconception on my part. I’m pretty happy with her representation so she’d be an option I’d welcome.

          Off topic, did you go to the Pols rendevous yesterday?

            1. I would like to hear some others weigh in about her.

              Some pluses for appointing her: she would be a great Senator and obviously, we could hold CD5 with a Democrat so we’d be in no danger of losing a House seat in 2 years in an election. Does Romanoff live in CD5? I think he does. If so, he’d be the perfect replacement for her and would more than likely win re-election in two years and hold that seat as long as he liked. Being appointed to the US House would be a great political move up the ladder for him.

              A win win for Democrats, that’s for sure.

              The downside to puting John Salazar in is this: I think if he’s appointed, you’ll see the Republicans sink some serious cash into trying to put CD3 back in their column. It would create a genuine pick up opportunity for them.  

            2. No way, no how does DeGette make any inroads on the West Slope. She’s too Denver, not trusted on water and not trusted on wilderness.

              Romanoff, on the other hand, could cut into Republican strengths in the state’s hinterlands.

                1. He is extraordinarily popular with female voters. His being unmarried makes him even more attractive.

                  If you implying “confirmed batchelor” = “gay”, I’m pretty sure you’re barking up the wrong tree – so says the “gay lumberjack” 🙂

            3. DeGette ran at least three tough races — her 1996 primary against Tim Sandos (whom Wellington Webb endorsed), the 1996 general election against Joe Rogers, and the 2002 primary against Ramona Martinez — and won all three decisively.  The press thought Sandos or Doug Friednash would succeed Pat Schroeder.  Remember the New York Times article and Denver Post editorial about how Joe Rogers could win in a Democratic stronghold?  Both the Post and News endorsed Rogers.  DeGette outhustled the guys and proved the pundits wrong on election day.

              DeGette is no more liberal than Udall, Romanoff, or Hick.  Her bipartisanship on the stem cell bill will play well on the Western slope.  Her wilderness bill is very popular among the County Commissioners and voters in that part of the state.  She is a fundraising machine.

              Would she want it?  Probably not.  She’d lose twelve years of seniority, a leadership position, and a plum committee assignment.

              If Salazar goes to Interior, the Gov. should consider Cary Kennedy, Peter Groff, or Terrance Carroll.  They would all make solid Senators.  It’s time to consider someone other than a white male for a statewide position.

              1. Joe Rogers, in Denver?!  Ramona Martinez has never won anything outside of her small Denver neighborhood.  And Tim Santos?  Who? He’s really gone on to great things……

          1. Wouldn’t win statewide. Besides, I don’t think she’d risk losing her Congresswoman-for-life status.

            How about Cary Kennedy? She doesn’t have the name ID necessarily, but she’s won statewide office.

            I did not go because my I’ve got a pretty nasty cold. My wife took good care of me yesterday though, so I feel a little better.

            1. I’m sorry you didn’t get to go. I was hoping someone that attended would give the dish today. 🙂

              It was horribly miserable yesterday. A good day to stay home and nap.

              Hope you are feeling a bit better, my friend.

    1. I think Ritter likes her as well.

      Under any circumstance, if the seat becomes vacant, Ritter will have an extremely short window to appoint – a month or less.  Replacement will have to be in place by the time Obama is sworn in.  Given the package of proposals that Obama expects to have on his desk when he is sworn in, Colorado, Obama and Democratic leadership cannot afford to be down a Senator when votes start.

    2. But do you see her leaving Denver with her two young kids and starting that communte to and from DC.

      On a note, though, I believe she would become the youngest US Senator if appointed (as would Andrew), since John Sununu lost his seat.  

      1. What about Hick’s young son?  Why isn’t that an impediment to his appointment to the fill the Senate seat?

        Pat Schroeder and Diana DeGette proved that it’s possible for a mother with young kids to serve in Congress.  What a double standard!

        Youth is a huge benefit to serving in the Senate, which still runs on seniority.  Go Cary!

              1. Someone asks whether Cary Kennedy could serve in the Senate because of her “young family.”

                No one asks this questions regarding a male with small children, however.  Not on ColoradoPols.  Not elsewhere.

                Why not.

                Yet Pat Schroeder, Diana DeGette, and other women with young children were and are repeatedly challenged on this very point.  

                Are any of the posters on ColoradoPols women?  What do the women think?

                Is this chasing ghosts or is it identifying sexism?

                1. Andrew is single, I don’t view Hick as a major contender (he seems to like Denver), Barb’s kids are older (though she won’t get it either), etc.

                  And yes, I do understand the fear of double-standards for decisions like this. I think they’re dangerous. My point was to ask whether Cary herself would want the seat, particularly when she is a competent and popular state treasurer, considering she has young children and is from the Denver area.

                  I think she’s a terrific public servant and would make a fine Senator, family and all. I was just raising a point that I think is important to consider when we’re not talking about an election, but rather an appointment that someone has to consent to.

                  1. The question really is, would SHE want to be D.C.-based in her work.  I assume any mother OR father of young children would ask themselves that question.

                  2. male and female with younger children establish their households in the D.C. area so they aren’t away from their families as much.  Of course, they maintain a residence in their home states/districts as well, but do most of their living in the D.C. area.  I think Treasurer Kennedey would be an excellent choice.  However, Sen. Salazar may be more important to Colorado right where he is, instead of Secretary of the Interior.  

                2. Not that your question isn’t a good one but the person you replied to most definitely wasn’t asking in a sexist way and in my opinion, you got carried away and made a mountain out of a molehill/simple question from Adam.

  3. Obama is holding a news conference this afternoon to name Chu, Carol Browner and others related to Energy and the Environment, do we suppose he might use the same press conference to announce Salazar?

    Or will it just get leaked, as the others have?  

    I think one way or the other the announcement could come out today, either as a leak or part of the Press Confernece.

  4. Sen. Salazar would be an excellent choice for Interior because he understands how President Cheney “privatized” the Bureau of Land Mgmt and the National Forest Service agencies to favor energy development on public lands. It will take years to undo the damage and wrest control of these public lands back to American citizens. Salazar would definitely be up to that challenge.

    And while the state Republicans have Shetland ponies in their political stables, the Democrats are fortunate to have several Thoroughbreds to replace Sen. Salazar. Out here in the West, both Rep. Diana DeGette and Andrew Romanoff have excellent name recognition.

    DeGette’s moniker as a “liberal” is no different from Rep. Mark Udall’s and he won handily in a statewide election. As US Senator, should DeGette concentrate her efforts on a national healthcare plan, it would probably assure her a re-election victory in 2010. In the meanwhile, Romanoff would have no problem securing DeGette’s CD1 seat.

    However, DeGette’s has a few problems: she probably doesn’t have many – if any — IOU’s with Gov. Ritter and her support from the Latino community is almost nil. Ritter really needs a strong candidate like Ken Salazar on the ticket to help him and other Democrats win in 2010, and he needs to especially reach out to Hispanic voters.

    Why not appoint Rep. John Salazar in to replace his brother? CD3 is still precarious for the Democrats with energy companies willing to stake millions in that race (as they did for the local Western Slope commissioner races.) Plus, John Salazar hates to travel and campaign far from his farm in CD3, let alone having to cover the state.

    Should Ken Salazar go to Obama’s cabinet, Ritter would be wise to consider a “wild card” in this political mix to replace Salazar: Federico PeГ±a. Not only does he know Washington, PeГ±a’s specialty is transportation — a key issue right next to healthcare. And PeГ±a’s close relationship with the Obama team would be an asset for Colorado.

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