Well, I'll give Gov. Ritter credit for thinking outside the box. Just about no one here expected him to name Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet to the U.S. Senate. He wasn't on any serious short list.
I'm still pretty flabbergasted about this. Mainly, it strikes me as a risky pick. (Disclosure: Bennet signs half the paychecks that come into my household.) It's not risky because Bennet won't be a good senator -- quite the contrary. He's very bright and gets both the business world and the political world quite well. He knows a lot, but he's not afraid to turn to the advice of experts when he doesn't know something. These are all very good qualities for a school superintendant and a senator.
The risk is that he's largely unknown outside Denver, has never run for office before, and will have a tough time defending his seat in 2010. It's my strong impression than 2010 will be a relatively difficult year for Democrats. Midterms are usually tough for the president's party, and the economy isn't likely to have made a big turnaround by then. On top of that, interim appointee senators historically have a hard time holding onto their seats when they run for office. Bennet can't win this seat in 2010 solely with the votes of Denver Democrats; he'll have to win some of those western slope voters that put Ritter and Udall over the top. Bennet can do it, but he's got his work cut out for him, considering most of those voters have never even heard of him and only know he's a Denver Democrat.
Andrew Romanoff is a Denver pol but has a good reputation statewide. Joan Fitz-Gerald is also well known and is a serious campaigner. John Salazar and Ed Perlmutter have a proven ability to win in moderate districts. Gov. Ritter, who's a pretty cautious politician, passed over these and other well qualified Democrats in favor of a real unknown quantity. The more I think about it, the more this move surprises me.