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McInnis eyes Senate run

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press

DENVER ” Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, said he’s made a decision about whether to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, but would not announce it until Friday. He returned to Denver from Washington, D.C., Thursday night.

McInnis said in September he would not run for a sixth term in the House because he wants to return to Colorado. He said Thursday a campaign for the Senate would be different because it would allow him to spend more time at home.

McInnis said he was also considering the cost of a primary election, noting he still has a lot of money in his campaign fund. His last report indicated he had $1.4 million.

“The dust still has to settle,” McInnis said.

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In a press release faxed to newspapers last night, the Colorado Republican party issued its take on the rules relating to a special election to fill the six-term congressman’s seat.

“Ted Halaby, chairman of the Colorado Republicans,” the press release begins, “today announced that in the event U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis does resign tomorrow, the following rules will apply to fill the resulting vacancy and nominate the Republican candidate:

“The Governor must call a special election to take place within 75 to 90 days after the vacancy occurs to elect the successor to Rep. McInnis.”

The remainder of the press release outlines the party’s plan for nominating a candidate before the special election, which, if McInnis resigns tomorrow, would occur between May 26 and June 10.

Other potential GOP candidates for Sen. Campbell’s seat include U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo and former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, both conservatives, and Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, whose name was added to the list Thursday.

“Ultimately what I’d like to see is the party get behind its strongest candidate and avoid a primary, because I think that would be obviously our best bet to win the general election,” Halaby said.

On the Democratic side, the top contenders set aside their differences Wednesday and cleared the way for state attorney general Ken Salazar to seek the nomination to be that party’s Senate candidate.

He faces three lesser-known candidates: Mike Miles, an El Paso County educator; Larry Johnson, a Boulder lawyer; and Brad Freedberg, a Denver lawyer. Boulder businesswoman Elizabeth Baker dropped out Thursday.

Democrats are hoping the seismic shakeup in Colorado politics will help them make up lost ground as they try to retake control of the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-48 majority, with one Democrat-leaning independent.

Earlier this week, Republican favorite Gov. Bill Owens decided not to run. Both parties are expected to shower attention on the race now that the seat, once considered safe for the GOP, is up for grabs.

McInnis, 50, represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Aspen, most of western Colorado and parts of southern Colorado.

[The Aspen Times contributed to this report]


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