DeGette says she doesn’t want Senate job |

DeGette says she doesn’t want Senate job

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” A Denver Democrat who was one of the first to float her name as a replacement to Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar has decided she doesn’t want the job.

Rep. Diana DeGette called the governor Tuesday to say she wants to withdraw her name from consideration to fill the remaining two years of the term for Colorado’s Salazar, who has been tapped as Interior Secretary for President-elect Barack Obama.

DeGette says she would better serve the state as a deputy whip for the House’s Democratic leadership. DeGette has represented the city of Denver in Congress since 1997 and is currently the state’s longest-serving member.

She will be a significant player next year in Congress, while in the Senate DeGette would have had little seniority, said her spokesman, Kristofer Eisenla.

Ritter, who will name Salazar’s replacement, has not said when he’ll announce his pick. A Democrat is considered a lock for the job because both Ritter and Salazar are Democrats.

During her call to withdraw her name, DeGette didn’t talk with the governor about whom he should pick, Eisenla said.

While never saying outright she wanted the job, DeGette told reporters just hours after Obama’s Salazar announcement that she would make a natural successor for Salazar. She talked up her ability to raise money and that she could appeal to Coloradans outside Denver.

But on Tuesday, DeGette said in a statement that she “can be more effective in ensuring that the upcoming stimulus package and highway bill benefit our state in my capacity as the most senior member of the Colorado congressional delegation than as the most junior senator.”

She did not indicate whether she was likely to get the appointment anyhow.

Though Ritter has said little about whom he’ll choose, other Democrats who have expressed interest in the post include Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Denver’s western suburbs and term-limited House Speaker Andrew Romanoff of Denver.

Ritter has also started an e-mail address to solicit suggestions on who should be picked. The replacement wouldn’t take office until after Salazar’s Cabinet appointment is confirmed by the Senate, which could take several weeks after Obama and the new Congress are seated in January.

The quiet Colorado Senate search is a marked departure from flashy Senate searches in the two other states with Senate vacancies.

In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces federal charges of seeking bribes in exchange for his appointment to Obama’s Senate seat. Blagojevich has insisted he did nothing wrong and named an Obama replacement Tuesday, state Attorney General Roland Burris. However, the Illinois Senate has refused to confirm Blagojevich’s pick because of the scandal.

And in New York, where Sen. Hillary Clinton has been tapped as secretary of state, the high-profile search includes Caroline Kennedy.

In Colorado, DeGette joins several other prominent Democrats who have disavowed interest in the Senate appointment. Salazar’s brother, Democratic Rep. John Salazar, says he isn’t actively seeking the job. Frederico Pena, a former Denver mayor who was secretary of energy and transportation under President Clinton, has also said he isn’t interested.

Salazar’s replacement will have to stand for re-election in 2010.

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