Today Colorado Governor Bill Ritter announced that he won’t seek a second term in the rocky mountain state. Given that announcement, there has been much speculation that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar may leave the Obama administration to run for governor. Ken Salazar’s brother John, who currently serves in the Congress, is reportedly telling people that he believes his brother will leave the cabinet to run for the governor of Colorado. And apparently, the White House has given the OK for Salazar to leave if he decides to make a run for his state’s top job. Politico has gone so far to speculate that lame duck Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger may replace Salazar as Interior Secretary if he does leave to enter the governor’s race.
I could see a place for Schwarzenegger in the Obama administration since the Governator has proven to be rather moderate and bipartisan on many issues and is rather proud of his own environmental record here in the Golden State. I am not necessarily swayed by Ken Salazar one way or the other (I was originally hoping that Rep. Raul Grijalva would have secured the Interior appointment, but Obama opted for the more conservative choice).
Today Secretary Salazar announced policy changes that would bring stricter scrutiny and public input into how oil and gas leases are awarded on public lands, and just a few days ago, he vowed to continue reforms and bring more accountability to his agency.
Finally, it might be worth looking at the polling history for Ken Salazar in Colorado. Colorado is a state that swings either to the Democrats or the Republicans — it essentially is a purple state. Before joining the Obama administration, Salazar’s approval rating as Senator in Colorado was at a 39/36 spread. Plainly, Salazar is probably safer banking on his current job, but if he is a true politician who loves the game, he will consider throwing his Stetson into the ring.