They’re dropping like flies.
Or rats jumping ship.
Pick your creature.
First, Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan announces his retirement tonight.
Gov. Bill Ritter is planning an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday at which he is expected to announce that he will withdraw from the race for governor, numerous sources close to Ritter confirmed tonight.
The governor’s office made calls to the Colorado Senate president and Speaker of the House to ask about their availability to attend the press conference.
At the same time, Washington, D.C. blogs were reporting that Ritter would drop out of the race for governor.
Repeated calls for comment to Ritter’s staff and communications director were not returned tonight. The governor was said to be making calls to other Democrats, informing them of the decision.
Polls have shown that Ritter is trailing Republican and former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis in the race.
Methinks the Villafuerte taint played a role.
Colorado blogger Ross Kaminsky weighs in on the post-Ritter picture for GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis and the anticipated Dem field:
So, my handicapping of a race between Scott McInnis and the Democrats are as follows:
1) John Hickenlooper beats McInnis by 5%.
2) McInnis beats Ed Perlmutter by 8%
3) McInnis beats Ken Salazar by 4%
4) McInnis beats Andrew Romanoff by 7%
And if the rumor is false and Ritter does run for re-election, I think McInnis wins by 8%.
So, as I said earlier, if I were the GOP, I’d hope that John Hickenlooper finds, yet again, a reason not to run for governor.
Finally, as for Bill Ritter, don’t forget that he was one of the earliest big-name supporters of Barack Obama in Colorado. It would not surprise me if we see him get offered a position, whether a real job or something more ceremonial, by the Obama Administration, especially if it becomes clear that his withdrawal was orchestrated knowing that Hickenlooper would run to succeed him.
Ritter did not return phone calls seeking reaction. Sources said Ritter called a news conference on Wednesday to announce his decision. A spokesman for Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said she and Pat Waak, the state Democratic Party chairmwoman, would call a meeting of senior elected officials from Colorado on Wednesday to discuss how to go forward as a party.
Reaction from Republicans was swift.
“What a dramatic turn of events. He was a very weak incumbent and he wanted to get out on his own terms,” said Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams.