by Ralph Routon
Surrounded by a battalion of party leaders, including the man he wants to replace, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper stood outside the state Capitol on Tuesday afternoon and announced his candidacy for governor in the 2010 election.
"I love Colorado every bit as much as I love Denver," Hickenlooper said in his most memorable line of the afternoon.
At this point, Hickenlooper doesn't have an opponent for the August primary, though a few rumors insist that U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, the former Colorado House speaker, might decide to leave his race against Sen. Michael Bennet and run for governor instead. Then again, other rumors suggest that Hickenlooper seriously wants Romanoff to join his ticket as lieutenant governor, which definitely would create a powerful pairing.
Romanoff was nowhere to be seen Tuesday, but that didn't matter on the eve of the Legislature convening its 2010 session. Gov. Bill Ritter, whose departure from the race opened the way for Hickenlooper, hugged his potential successor. Others in the crowd included Senate President Brandon Shaffer, current House Speaker Terrance Carroll and Secretary of State Bernie Buescher.
Hickenlooper has indicated he will continue serving as Denver's mayor to avoid the cost of a special election. Soon after his announcement, statements of support came from both of Colorado's U.S. senators, Mark Udall and Bennet, as well as U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter and John Salazar, among others.