UPDATE: Treasurer Cary Kennedy (mentioned in the story below) very smartly extricated herself from this discussion and endorsed John Hickenlooper a few minutes ago.
Hickenlooper decided to run for governor on Sunday, and met with Romanoff Monday night, sources told 7NEWS. During the meeting Romanoff pressed for a Romanoff-Cary Kennedy ticket for governor and lieutenant governor. Kennedy is the state treasurer.
They met again Tuesday morning.
“He never tried to dissuade me from running,” Hickenlooper said. However, he refused to discuss the details of their conversation, saying they have been friends for a long time.
Hickenlooper decided to make the announcement Tuesday to pre-empt any announcement by Romanoff that he would enter the race for Colorado governor, sources said.
Apparently redacted from the original report (but not before being posted in a comment here):
Romanoff asked Hickenlooper not to run, but Hickenlooper adamantly stated he was running, according to sources.
We’ve heard more rumors today that Romanoff is considering leaving the Senate race and challenging Hickenlooper in a gubernatorial primary. Certainly he could make that hard-to-imagine midflight switch from a federal to a state race, but we have grave questions about how that would be received by voters, not to mention the practical problems of such a move–Romanoff was having trouble raising money for a Senate race with contribution limits significantly higher than those for Governor, and none of the money he has raised for Senate would be usable in a race for Governor. How many of those people who donated to his campaign for Senate would be interested in donating again to a campaign for Governor after seeing how poorly his campaign for Senate has been?
There’s the possibility Romanoff could get the Lt. Gov. nod, thus alleviating tensions, but that seems less likely with another male from Denver headlining the ticket.
Short of joining the ticket, to “step down” to the governor’s race from the Senate primary would be a frank admission that he couldn’t win where he was–and if he can’t beat Michael Bennet, arguably in a more vulnerable spot than Hickenlooper, how could he possibly expect to beat a sitting mayor of Denver with 80% approval ratings?
But beyond that, the optics of Romanoff making such a switch now would be absolutely horrible: it would reek of desperation, signaling that personal power–and career insecurity–really were the driving force behind all his agitation these last few months. Unfortunately the damage may be done at this point, any speculation about Romanoff switching races cannot help but weaken him in the race he’s nominally running in now.
For as critical as we have been of Romanoff’s quixotic nonstarter of a Senate campaign, we would be pained to see this get any worse for him than it already is in terms of future political viability–and that means he needs to stop the appearance of erratic “shopping” for his next office right now. There was a time back in the day, in 2005, before Bill Ritter (or even Hickenlooper, for that matter), when Romanoff could have had the same deference in a gubernatorial campaign from other contenders that Hickenlooper enjoys today. And Romanoff is still a pretty young guy–if he doesn’t flush his reputation reaching for things that lie just beyond his grasp this election cycle, which involves some swallowing of pride and realism, he could be back to triumph another day.
Or, maybe Romanoff will become a punchline: this decision could be the crucible.