Gov. Bill Ritter announced this morning that he will not seek re-election to a second term.
Ritter, 53, was elected in 2006. During his tenure he has led a charge to diversify the state's energy portfolio, improve public schools and expand health care coverage.
In the past year, however, as the national recession worsened, Ritter has been forced to ask the General Assembly for repeated budget cuts.
The governor said that his decision is based on a desire to strengthen his relationships with his wife and children and put aside partisan campaign pressures so that he can spend his last year in office dealing with the state budget and other issues.
"It is my family who has sacrificed the most," Ritter said. "My wife Jeannie, my kids, three of whom are here today. I haven’t found a proper balance where my family is concerned. I haven’t made them the priority they should be."
The Ritters have a grown-up son, a son in college and two other children at home.
The governor said that he is confident that he would have won a re-election bid and that he is not worried that his decision makes it more likely that the Republican party will win the governor's seat.
"It’s a long way to the election and I felt the election was absolutely winnable," Ritter said. "I’m a trial lawyer. I love a fight."
Ritter argued that the state's economy is improving and that, when he leaves office in Jan. 2011, the state will be in even better shape.
"Colorado is on the road to recovery," he said.
No other Democrats have announced plans to seek the governor's seat this year. Possible contenders include Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff.
Republican candidates include former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis and Evergreen businessman Dan Maes.