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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- Colorado

CO Gov Poll: Salazar No Sure Thing For Dems

We reported Tuesday after word leaked of Bill Ritter's decision to retire that Democrats were already speaking to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about leaving the Obama Cabinet to run for governor in Colorado. Today, the Denver Post reports that Salazar has been given permission, reluctantly, from the White House to leave his post and run, if he so chooses.

But a new Rasmussen poll (500 LVs, 1/6, MoE +/- 4.5%) released today shows that Salazar, a former state attorney general and U.S. Senator, is no by no means the strongest candidate Democrats could field against former Rep. Scott McInnis, the likely GOP nominee.

General Election Matchups
McInnis 47 -- Salazar 41 -- Und 9
McInnis 47 -- Romanoff 37 -- Und 11
McInnis 45 -- Hickenlooper 42 -- Und 8

John Hickenlooper, the popular mayor of Denver, said at a press conference that he was considering the race, but that if Salazar runs, he'd "probably be his first volunteer." Andrew Romanoff, the former state House Speaker, is still at this point challenging fellow Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet, appointed by Ritter to Salazar's old seat.

Favorable Ratings
McInnis 60 / 26
Salazar 52 / 45
Hickenlooper 57 / 32
Romanoff 37 / 43

President Obama has a 45 percent job approval rating in Colorado, while 54 percent disapprove. Ritter's approval split is fairly similar, 44 / 52.

UPDATE: Chris Cillizza reports that Salazar will stay in the Cabinet, and announce he's backing Hickenlooper for the gubernatorial race.

Another One Bites The Dust: CO Gov. Ritter (D) To Retire

What a day for Democrats. First, Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D) announced he was dropping out of the Michigan gubernatorial race. Then Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) stunned Washington by announcing he would not seek re-election. And tonight, word from Colorado that Gov. Bill Ritter (D) will not seek re-election.

Ritter won in a landslide in 2006, but has had a rocky tenure since then. He was considered one of the weakest incumbent governors in the country, and so his departure could actually clear the way for a stronger candidate free of the "status quo" label in what is shaping up to be an anti-incumbent year.

Democrats would be eager to see former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff switch to the governor race instead of challenging Sen. Michael Bennet, who Ritter appointed this January when Ken Salazar resigned to join the Obama Cabinet. But Salazar himself could be in the mix as well. A Democratic source tells RCP that the Interior Secretary is being urged by national Democrats to consider running for the seat. Salazar was the state attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2004.

Scott McInnis is the likely Republican gubernatorial nominee. For its part, the RGA pounced on the Ritter and Cherry news today with this statement:

"The spectacularly early failures of both the Ritter and Cherry campaigns in battleground states ought to send a shiver down the spine of all Democratic candidates for governor this year."

CO Gov, Sen Poll: Bad News Ritter

A new Tarrance Group poll in Colorado brings bad news for Gov. Bill Ritter, who's running for re-election next year (Sept. 16-17, 500 LV, MoE +/- 4.5%). More people feel the state is headed in the wrong direction (48%) than say it's on the right track (41%) -- an upside down direction-of-the-state rating is not part of the recipe for a successful re-election, especially when the economy is easily the most important issue (31%).

More bad news is that 56% are ready for a new person to be governor, while just 33% say he deserves to be re-elected. His favorable and job approval ratings are right side up -- more people view him favorably (47%) than unfavorably (43%), more approve (48%) than disapprove (46%) of the job he's doing as governor -- though at sub-50% they remain troubling signs for his re-election.

Ritter was elected in 2006 by a 17-point margin against then-congressman Bob Beauprez. The survey did not test the governor against his potential GOP challengers, but did test the Republican primary, between former Rep. Scott McInnis and state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, a former congressional aide to McInnis.

McInnis 40
Penry 13
Und 47

Also tested were the primaries in the Senate contest. Appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is running against former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the Democratic primary; tested for the GOP primary were Lt. Gov. Jane Norton and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck.

Bennet 41
Romanoff 27
Und 32

Norton 45
Buck 15
Und 40

Poll: Mixed Reviews for Ritter

A new Rasmussen survey finds Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) in dangerous territory against two potential GOP challengers. Ritter trails former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) by 5 points and leads state Sen. Minority Leader Josh Penry (R) by just 1 point -- a statistical tie.

McInnis 44
Ritter 39
Und 10

Ritter 41
Penry 40
Und 12

McInnis served six terms in the House from 1992 to 2004 (in the district now represented by Democrat John Salazar). Penry is 33 years old and a former congressional aide to McInnis. A PPP survey released last month found Penry tied with Ritter and McInnis leading by 8 points.

Ritter's approval rating is up some in the Rasmussen survey to 49%, though his disapproval ratings is up as well (49%). Ritter won in 2006 by 17 points, and Pres. Obama won the state by 9 points in 2008.

CO Gov Poll: Ritter Vulnerable

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D), who shot into office in 2006 with 17-point margin of victory, is vulnerable as he gears up for a run at re-election. A new Public Policy Polling survey found the governor with an upside-down approval rating and trailing a potential Republican opponent.

Ritter trails with 38 percent to 46 percent for former Rep. Scott McInnis (R), who served six terms in Congress from 1992 to 2004. The other Republican tested is Josh Penry, a 33-year-old state Senate minority leader and former congressional aide to McInnis. Ritter and Penry are tied at 40 percent apiece.

"The good news for Bill Ritter is that despite a tough budget cycle and Democrats polling worse nationally he's not in any worse shape than four months ago," said PPP president Dean Debnam. "The bad news of course is that he already had a negative approval rating and an outside the margin of error gap against one of his possible GOP opponents back then."