November 5 2004, 7:09 AM
I have a feeling Pete Coors is going to decide he has better things to do than run for office again, but there are a few Colorado politicians that didn't win office on Tuesday who very likely could come back and try again. First is former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer of Fort Collins, who was defeated by Coors in the Republican Senate primary. Republican Party leadership recruited Coors because they believed that Schaffer's brand of social conservatism was too far to the right for Colorado. Schaffer and his supporters likely disagree in view of Coors' defeat, coupled with victories by Schaffer-style conservatives in the Senate races in Oklahoma and South Carolina. Having held their noses to vote for the man identified with the Coors Light Twins ad campaign, Colorado social conservatives likely feel it is their turn for the party to support them, and Schaffer is their man. Schaffer is well positioned to make a strong bid for the Republican nomination in the 2006 governor's race. The defeated candidate in the Democratic Senate primary, Mike Miles, also may be seen again. Miles campaigned for literally two years and surprised everyone by getting more delegates than Ken Salazar at the Colorado State Democratic Convention. A former Army Ranger and diplomat, Miles' expertise is in foreign affairs, and his strong anti-Iraq war stance delighted many. Should the situation in Iraq deteriorate, don't be surprised if Miles reappears on the Colorado political scene. The biggest hurdle Miles faces is that as a resident of the Colorado Springs suburbs, there is no state legislative or House office available to him that isn't solidly in Republican hands. But he wasn't deterred by such seemingly long odds when he started his Senate bid. One candidate we will almost certainly here from again is Democrat Joanna Conti of Golden. History will record that she lost her race to Tom Tancredo in the 6th Congressional District by a 60-40 margin. But Conti picked up more than 136,000 votes -- more than Bob Beauprez received in his successful bid for reelection in the 7th Congressional District. This strong showing in the south Denver suburbs makes Conti an attractive candidate for statewide office, as does her life story as a small business operator and fiscal moderate who switched from the Republican Party to the Democrats because she believes the Republicans have moved too far to the right. If she does not run for governor herself, don't be surprised if she ends up as the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee in 2006.