I posted earlier today about Ben Nighthorse Campbell over at PSR -- a mostly factual post, I'd like to think, of course with a little straightforward analysis from a Colorado Democratic perspective. Over here at Colorado Luis, I feel I can indulge posting something a little more speculative I've been thinking about as I've been following this Campbell campaign story.
There have been these persistent rumors that Campbell is fed up with DC and, at age 70, wants to retire. Back in March the whispers were that the former Olympic judo team member was off to become the new head of the US Olympic Committee, which is headquartered in Colorado Springs. Campbell angrily denies the rumors, even while admitting that he is a little sick of the humidity in Washington. He insists that he is a candidate for Senate in 2004.
So here's my speculation: What if both stories are true -- that Campbell will run and that he will retire? Let's imagine this: Ken Salazar decides not to run, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tells Mark Udall not to expect any support, so he drops out too. Campbell beats some vanity millionaire candidate for re-election, then develops "health problems" that "require" him to step down and go back to the ranch in Ignacio. Governor Bill Owens appoints himself to Campbell's senate seat. We know Owens is ambitious, but is the 2008 presidential nomination really within his grasp? From the senate, he could position himself as a VP nominee for 2008 and gear up for a special senatorial election in 2006 (when he would be term-limited out of a job as governor anyway). Meanwhile, back in Colorado, Jane Norton becomes the new governor and has two years to increase her name recognition and gain the benefits of incumbency in a 2006 gubernatorial slugfest against Salazar.
That's probably too devious a plan to pull off, but you just have to wonder where all the Campbell retirement rumors are coming from. But I will say this: If I were a 70 year old senator with a ranch in the gorgeous mountain country of southwestern Colorado, I sure wouldn't be thrilled at the idea of spending another six years in Washington DC, no matter how little actual work I did.