Atmosphere

The Governlooper

With Ritter fleeing public office, the mayor aims for the Capitol.

March 2010

Twice in one year's time, Governor Bill Ritter has set Colorado politicians dashing about in a mad game of musical chairs. In the first go-around, DPS superintendent Michael Bennet replaced Ken Salazar as a U.S. senator, while interested parties such as Mayor John Hickenlooper and former House speaker Andrew Romanoff were ignored.

This time around, Ritter's announcement that he wouldn't seek a second term set the same players—all of whom appeared on the January "5280 Fifty" power list—scurrying to back rooms to debate their futures again. After Interior secretary Salazar (#5 on the "5280 Fifty") turned down the chance to replace Ritter (#9), Romanoff (a "plummeting stock" on the list) hemmed and hawed about dropping out of his primary against Bennet (#7) to run for governor.

But while Romanoff dithered, a bigger name decided he liked the digs at the governor's mansion: Hickenlooper—who just happens to be the top-ranked player on the "5280 Fifty." With Denver already in his pocket, the mayor is well on his way to becoming the most powerful person in Colorado—and perhaps, eventually, beyond. Hick for Prez?