Big news in Colorado (via the Denver Post):
Gov. Bill Ritter is planning an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday at which he is expected to announce that he will withdraw from the race for governor, numerous sources close to Ritter confirmed tonight.
And bad news for President Obama. Ritter, elected in 2006, is an affable, Western, and pro-life governor who (was) a rising star. In summer 2008, he was even an outside candidate to be Obama’s veep. Here’s what I wrote about him at the time for the Wall Street Journal:
Governor Bill Ritter, who grew up on a Colorado farm, aced his first appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday, appearing unpretentious and focused — and hardly put off by host Tom Brokaw’s questions about how a Western, pro-life Democratic Governor fits with the national party’s “progressive” platform.
“I think the Democratic Party in the West has been able to say that [a pro-choice position on abortion] is not going to be a litmus test,” Mr. Ritter answered. The national Democratic Party may have a pro-choice platform in Denver, but such planks hardly mean Democrats “don’t very much embrace people who might have different views. I’m a great example of that.”
Wow. How the party must have changed since popular Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey was denied a speaking turn at the 1992 Democratic convention because he adhered to Catholic teaching on abortion. Mr. Ritter, 51, is a former Catholic missionary in Africa who endorsed Mr. Obama on June 3. Numerous liberal blogs, from DailyKos to Democratic Underground, have buzzed ever since about Mr. Ritter’s chances to be Mr. Obama’s vice presidential nominee.
Such hopes for a pro-life Obama veep were, of course, just happy talk. Since ‘08, the Democratic party has lurched in the opposite direction — losing its Bill Ritters (for real) and Bart Stupaks (in spirit). Politically, with Ritter out, it’ll be interesting to see if former Democratic state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff drops his primary challenge against current U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and jumps into the gubernatorial race. Regardless, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, former GOP congressman Scott McInnis, has a real chance to win this seat. Even with Ritter in, the race was deemed a “toss up” by both the Cook and Rothenberg political reports. Another former GOP rep, Bob Beauprez, who lost to Ritter in 2006, is also considering a run.