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December 05, 2016 03:33 PM UTC

Democratic '18 Guv Race a Two-Plus Affair (For Now)

  • by: Colorado Pols
Ken Salazar, Ed Perlmutter.
Ken Salazar, Ed Perlmutter.

Veteran political reporter Peter Marcus opens some speculation about the 2018 Colorado gubernatorial race over at Colorado Politics, and there are a couple of points worth reinforcing even at this early stage of the game:

Ken Salazar and his inner-circle have been quiet about what the San Luis Valley Democrat’s intentions are, though many say he is first considering the impact a run would have on his family. Salazar has already had a long career in politics, so he might just want to retire, his friends say…

Another name that keeps popping up is U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden, a strong campaigner who has the ability to bridge the party.

“I think he’s thinking about it, he’s trying to decide how he can best serve the state and what we need to do for the future of Colorado,” said state Rep.-elect Chris Kennedy, a Jefferson County Democrat who is close with Perlmutter.

“The biggest thing we need to take away from the election is that authenticity matters, and that’s a place where Ed Perlmutter is really strong,” Kennedy continued.

Other Democratic names in the mix for discussion purposes in Marcus’ story include former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Sen. Michael Merrifield of Colorado Springs, and Sen. Michael Johnston of Denver–the latter being a relatively “dark horse” contender who even most political insiders don’t realize is interested in the race.

Despite a healthy field of well-qualified potential Democratic candidates, at this point serious discussion has to boil down to former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden. Either of these candidates are top-tier in terms of qualifications and name ID. For many years now, there has been a presumption among insider Democrats that the successorship to Gov. John Hickenlooper was Salazar’s to turn down, but Marcus is correct that this presumption may be wearing thin with the passage of time. Salazar has served at high executive levels, but he has been out of any kind of office for several years. Salazar’s most recent work with Hillary Clinton’s abortive transition team may not freshen his resume enough to clear the field for the 2018 gubernatorial race.

One other point to consider is that Perlmutter moving up to the gubernatorial race would free up a “logjam” of qualified Jefferson County Democrats to ascend–into his seat, and then into seat(s) vacated by successor candidates. It’s to Perlmutter’s credit that he has proven such an able representative in CD-7, there has never been any real dissatisfaction among Democrats with him–let alone a primary challenger. But if Ed moves up, there are lots of able young Democrats who would be ready to move up with him.

We’ll be watching closely to see what both Salazar and Perlmutter decide.


20 thoughts on “Democratic ’18 Guv Race a Two-Plus Affair (For Now)

  1. Um.  A little confused.

    Salazar has served at high executive levels, but he has been out of any kind of office for many years.

    He served as Sec'y of the Interior until three years ago and held state or national office (state AG, Senator) for 10 years straight before that.  Not sure three is "many."  Also, it may not have freshened his resume, but if Salazar didn't still have firm connections to the centers of power, he wouldn't have been running Hillary's transition.

    If Ken gets in, I still think you may get Johnston, as he has access to money that Ken doesn't lock down.  Maybe Kennedy, I guess.  Certainly that would leave an opening for Joe Salazar to come in for the Bernie wing.  I can't see Perlmutter running if Ken does.  Then again, what do I know.

    1. Who cares which is which?  You can really be insufferable at times, even for me as an actual conservative, and me not being a curmudgeon who posts only to stir things up.

      1. You miss my point. There is a rift in the Democrat party between the grassroots liberals and the insiders. Both of these candidates seem like insiders to me, so I wondered which was the Bernie vs. Hillary in the race.

        I don't think it's a bad question. It's not my fault Democrats are divided.

  2. I think Johnston will run as a dark horse for the Dem Gov nomination, but I think his eyes are on Senator Cory Gardner's seat in DC. Just a hunch, backed by zero loose talk or information from his inner circle.

  3. I'm a big fan of Cary Kennedy.  I did help two other bright women win, beth mccann as da and state sen. Lois court, so maybe the first woman gov. Is doable.  Otherwise I have little to do except watch a madman in the White House defile America.


  4. *if* Salazar doesn't run we may have quite an interesting caucus, assembly and primary for D. I would also expect Dan Gibbs to be interested 

    1. I like Dan Gibbs…a very impressive young man. If he embraces a truly populist, grassroots agenda, I would be inclined to support him. I haven't heard much of him lately. Is he still holding an office?

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