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The great Colorado non-scandal

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Ed Quillen | Jun 14, 2010 10:45 AM

Last week, I talked to one of my daughters in Oregon, and she asked me about "the Romanoff scandal," adding that it was much in the news out there and so it must be a really big deal in Colorado.
 
It hasn't been getting that much play in Colorado -- I don't recall anyone bringing it up even over coffee. There's a good reason; I just can't see it as anything other than normal politics.
 
It starts in early 2009. President Barack Obama appoints Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior. Thus Salazar resigned as a U.S. Senator from Colorado, and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter had to appoint a replacement. 

He chose Michael Bennet, who had never held elected office. He was superintendent of Denver's public school system and had served as chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (who is now the Democratic nominee for governor, as Ritter is not seeking re-election). 

Bennet's appointment surprised and dismayed many people, including me. I thought a better choice was Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the state house of representatives who left office on account of term limits. 

Romanoff felt the same way, as did many other Colorado Democrats -- he'll face Bennet in the Aug. 10 primary election. 

Here's the alleged scandal. Obama prefers Bennet, and so he hoped to avoid a potentially divisive primary by offering (through a surrogate) Romanoff a job in the administration. 

Something similar is alleged to have happened in Pennsylvania with Rep. Joe Sestak getting the job offer so as to avoid a primary against Republican-turn-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter. As it turned out, Sestak won the May 18 primary and will be the Democratic nominee. 

And if there were job offers, so what? The President is the leader of his political party, and naturally he wants senators who support his policies. Why wouldn't he try to move things in that direction? That's just politics. I can't see it as something evil. 

But to check my position, I performed a thought experiment: Would I be upset if George W. Bush had done the same thing in an analogous situation? And I can't see how I'd have cared if Bush had offered Bob Schaffer a job so as to avoid that 2004 primary against Pete Coors. 

I suspect that most Coloradans feel the same way -- this is not a scandal, it's just how the system works, and it's not worth getting upset about. But if you want to find some outrage, read here.

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