Categorized | Featured Stories, Legislative

Prospective Pols Line Up For Sen. Chris Romer’s Seat

By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS

State Sen. Chris Romer today is expected to announce that he will vacate his Senate seat to run for mayor of Denver.

Democrats are already scrambling to put together an estimated 150-person vacancy committee consisting of Democratic leadership to replace Romer. Those who have expressed an interest in taking over Romer’s seat in Senate District 32 are:

• State Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver;

• Owen Perkins, secretary of the Democratic Party of Denver;

• Irene Aguilar, a local physician;

• Jeff Hart, a local activist with the Democratic party, and;

• Matt Royster, a local environmentalist.

Romer will join Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock, as well as at-large Denver City Councilman Doug Linkhart, who have also announced that they are seeking Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper’s job.

Hickenlooper will hold his position until his Jan. 11 inauguration when Deputy Mayor Bill Vidal will then become acting mayor until the municipal election in May 2011.

Councilwoman Carol Boigon has also said that she expects to run for mayor.

Former Denver fire chief Rich Gonzales, who now serves as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration, has also said that he is considering a run for mayor, but has not made any final decisions.

Others who have filed paperwork to explore a run for mayor are James Mejia, chief executive of the Denver Preschool Program, and Danny Lopez, a city employee who lost to Hickenlooper in the 2007 mayoral race. Other lesser known candidates who have filed are Dwight Henson, Michael Forrester, Kenneth Simpson and Gerald Styron.

Other figures considering a run for mayor, but have not filed paperwork, are hotel developer Walter Isenberg and businessman Buzz Geller.

A spokesman for Romer’s campaign yesterday would not release any details of the announcement other than to say that it will take place this morning at 10 a.m. at the offices of AllonHill, a risk management and mortgage due diligence firm.

“After conversations with Senate leadership, constituents and family, Romer will make his candidacy official following a roundtable discussion with Denver employers and business leaders,” read a statement from the Romer campaign.

Democratic leaders are required to hold a vacancy committee meeting within 30 days of the official resignation date, say party leaders. Ten days notice of the meeting must also be made.

Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, pointed out that a “domino effect” could take place if Rep. McCann officially vacates her seat in House District 8 to pursue Romer’s seat. Another vacancy committee would need to be put together to replace McCann.

Waak is confident that there is a competent pool of candidates to replace Romer.

“Most of the people that we know of that might be interested in serving … are good solid Democrats, and I think the vacancy committee is made up of good solid Democrats …” said Waak. “It’s hard to walk in off the street and get a nomination like this.”

A simple majority vote is needed from the vacancy committee for the nomination to be made. If the vacancy committee is unable to act within 30 days, then the governor will make the appointment. But Edgar Neel, the Democratic chairman of SD 32, said his party is ready to go with a vacancy committee once the formal resignation date is set.

“It’s kind of a significant responsibility,” he said of the vacancy committee.

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