Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ritter to be First CO Guv since 1970s to Miss Second Term

Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to step aside after one term is somewhat unique in Colorado history. Most chief executives have, at least in recent decades, been re-elected.

The last Colorado governor who did not serve a second term was John D. Vanderhoof. He served between July 1973 and January 1975 after succeeding John Love in office when Love took a job in President Richard M. Nixon's administration. Vanderhoof sought re-election in 1974 but was defeated by Democrat Richard D. Lamm.

Prior to Vanderhoof, who was a Republican, the last governor who did not serve a second term was Democrat Edwin Johnson. He served between 1953-55, during the era when the length of a governor's term was just two years.

Other one-termers since statehood include Democrat James Grant (1883-85), Republican Benjamin Eaton (1885-87), Democrat Alva Adams (1887-89), Republican Job Cooper (1889-91), Republican John Routt (1891-93), Populist party member David Waite (1893-95), Republican Albert McIntire (1895-97), Democrat Alva Adams (1897-99), Democrat Charles Thomas (1899-1901), Democrat James Orman (1901-1903), Republican James Peabody (1903-05), Republican Henry Buchtel (1907-09), Democrat Elias Ammons (1913-15), Republican George Carlson (1915-17), Democrat Julius Gunter (1917-19), Democrat William Sweet (1923-25), Republican Clarence Morley (1925-27), and Democrat Teller Ammons (1937-39).

Gov. Ritter Won't Seek Second Term

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.