Udall will run for Senate
DENVER – Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Udall said Thursday he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and ruled out a bid for governor when that job comes open next year.Udall issued a written statement saying he will seek a fourth term in the 2nd Congressional District in 2006 and prepare for a bid for the Senate seat now held by Republican Wayne Allard.Udall, 54, represents Summit County.Allard’s office didn’t immediately return a call about whether the senator will seek a third term. He has said he intends to step down after two terms, but has left himself some wiggle room by saying he wouldn’t decide until closer to the election.Udall said some people have encouraged him to run for governor but “others believe I should build on my seniority, experience and bipartisan style in Congress to seek a U.S. Senate seat in 2008.”
Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, can’t seek a third term in 2006 because of term limits.Udall, a former state legislator, was briefly a candidate last year to replace GOP Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who retired because of health concerns. Udall bowed out after then-Attorney General Ken Salazar entered the Democratic primary.Salazar defeated Republican beer executive Pete Coors last November.Political consultants said while it seems early to announce for the 2008 race, it makes sense for Udall to stake his claim.”Udall made it quite clear that he would have run” last year, pollster Floyd Ciruli said.Ciruli and GOP consultant Katy Atkinson said Udall was considered the leading Democratic contender for governor. They said the House seat is a good launching pad for a Senate campaign.
“The fund-raising advantage of coming out of Congress is just huge,” Atkinson said.A possible challenge, however, is the fact that Udall represents a district anchored by Boulder County, a liberal stronghold. Tim Wirth was the last Democrat from the county to win a statewide race when he won the 1986 Senate race after serving 12 years in the House.Statewide, registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats.”Ken Salazar really has set the mode for what a Democrat needs to do to win statewide, and that’s not be easy to pigeonhole,” Ciruli said.Announcing his plans early allows Udall to establish himself more firmly with voters across the state, he added.
The former executive director of the Colorado Outbound School, Udall has championed environmental causes. He is on the House Armed Services, Science and Resources committees.Udall is also a member of one of the West’s most well-known political families. His father, the late Morris Udall, known as Mo, represented Arizona for three decades in the U.S. House and sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1976, finishing second to Jimmy Carter. His uncle, Stewart Udall, was a three-term Arizona congressman becoming interior secretary in 1961.His cousin, Tom Udall, is a Democratic congressman from New Mexico.Udall’s decision not to run for governor next year likely will reshuffle the lineup of possible candidates for the office, Atkinson and Ciruli said.Potential Democratic candidates include former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter, millionaire entrepreneur Rutt Bridges, who also withdrew from the Senate race last year when Salazar announced his candidacy, and former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler, who narrowly lost to Owens in 1998.State Treasurer Mike Coffman, a Republican, formed an exploratory committee to run for governor. The only other Republican so far to indicate an interest in the race is University of Denver President Marc Holtzman, who has no political experience.
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