Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Allard's Retirement Creates Tough Race for GOP

Wayne Allard's decision to retire rather than seek re-election in 2008 is not a surprise, but it nevertheless creates a very difficult open race - and it's hard to imagine that any Republican will be better than even money to win the seat. The Colorado GOP is no doubt hoping that Tom Tancredo sticks with his reported plans to run for President, rather than seeking the Senate nomination. Colorado has become a 'purple state' at all but the Presidential level, and might be purple there as well. A perceived one-issue candidate like Tancredo would probably have a very hard time holding the seat, assuming that Democrats nominate a decent candidate:

Colorado Republican Sen. Wayne Allard will not run for a third term in 2008, he announced Monday at a press conference in the state capital of Denver.

The 63-year-old Allard, whose retirement had long been the subject of speculation in national and state political circles, told Congressional Quarterly reporter Daphne Retter last Thursday that he had made a decision and would be unveiling it soon.

Allard pledged when he first ran for the Senate in 1996 that he would serve no more than two terms — which he cited in his retirement announcement Monday. “The people of Colorado placed their trust in me based on a promise I made to them and I am honoring that promise. In an age when promises are cast away as quickly as yesterday’s newspaper, I believe a promise made should be a promise kept,” Allard said, according to an Associated Press report.

Even without the self-imposed term limit hanging over his head, Allard faced the prospect of a difficult campaign next year. After years of Republican pre-eminence in the Mountain West state, Democrats have made significant gains in the past two election cycles, winning open-seat races for a Senate seat, the governor’s office and two U.S. House seats that had been held by Republicans, and wresting control of the state legislature from the GOP. Democratic strategists had previously stated that the Colorado race would be one of their top Senate targets in 2008, regardless of Allard’s decision.

CQ mentions former Rep. Scott McInnis as a potential contender. Expect a lot of talk about the former police officer who held a swing district from 1993 until his retirement in 2005. He would be an excellent candidate.

Update: Forget my speculation about Scott McInnis; attention is focused on a candidate who would clear the field like no other: John Elway. Celebrities and athletes sometimes 'flame out,' since the skills and background of stars don't always lend themselves to politics. Nevertheless, the popularity and name brand is impossible to turn down. And Elway is as probably as close to 'god' status as one can get in Colorado. He sounds like he'd be a formidable candidate.

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