Obama calls Denver mayor about governor’s race
January 9, 2010
DENVER – President Barack Obama called Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to discuss Colorado’s open governor’s seat, the mayor’s spokesman said Saturday, but it’s not clear whether the president urged him to run.
Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown said he didn’t hear the whole conversation and didn’t know whether the president asked Hickenlooper to run. He said Obama “encouraged the mayor to do what’s best for his family.”
The call was reported in Saturday’s editions of The Denver Post.
Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is considering running for the job after Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter announced Wednesday he wouldn’t seek re-election.
Hickenlooper will decide soon but probably won’t make any announcement this weekend, Brown said. Hickenlooper has said he will consult with his family before making up his mind.
Brown said Hickenlooper’s conversation with Obama lasted two minutes. The mayor was grateful and honored that the president called, Brown said.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado, has already endorsed Hickenlooper for governor, calling him a “uniter” who can transcend party and geographic lines.
Salazar declined to run for governor, saying he wanted to stay in Washington to work with Obama.
Other potential Democratic contenders include former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Romanoff is challenging first-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who was appointed by Ritter to fill the rest of Salazar’s term.
Republican Scott McInnis, a former congressman, had already announced he would run for governor. Also in the Republican race is Dan Maes, a businessman from the foothills town of Evergreen. He’s considered a long shot.
Ritter said he was dropping out of the race because it would take too much time away from his family.
The decision caught Democratic Party leaders off guard and boosted Republican hopes that they can recapture the governorship of a key Western swing state.