Washington (CNN) – One day after Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced he would retire at the end of this year, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced he would not run for governor.
Instead, Salazar is endorsing Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in this year's battle to succeed Ritter, a fellow Democrat.
"Colorado needs a strong, experienced leader with optimism and new ideas for carrying our state forward. That is why I am endorsing John Hickenlooper for Governor of Colorado. John Hickenlooper is a uniter," said Salazar in a statement released Thursday afternoon. "If he decides to run, he will make an excellent Governor for the State of Colorado."
Salazar served as Colorado attorney general before winning election to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He left his Senate seat early last year to join the Obama administration. Hickenlooper is the popular two-term mayor of Denver.
Salazar's move may prevent another Democrat, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, from jumping into the governor's race. Instead Romanoff may remain in his primary battle against Sen. Michael Bennet, whom Ritter named to fill Salazar's Senate seat.
Former Rep. Scott McInnis is the likely Republican gubernatorial nominee.
-CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Ed Henry, Jessica Yellin and Mark Preston contributed to this story
To bad Secretary Salazar declined to come back to Colorado; he would have beat McInnis easily. hickenlooper would be a great Governor, I just ope he has enough state-wide appeal. McInnis must not be allowed anywhere near the Governor's Mansion. The man is an extremist ideologue who is incapable of leading a state.
Salazar knows anyone associted with Obummer is in real trouble...no way he runs
Colorado wake up and vote against any more democratic nominees. We are getting close to being bankrupt like all of the other democratic controlled states (ie: New York, New Jersey, and California). Message to the crazy left don't thrown Arnolds name out to combat the above fact. He is a questionnable republican in a dark blue state.