UPDATE: Schweitzer’s Name (Again) Circulating as Potential Interior Secretary

By Beacon Staff

This blog post has been updated.

With the White House giving its OK, there are rumors coming out of Colorado that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could resign his cabinet post to run for governor of that state. Earlier Wednesday, Colorado’s incumbent Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection, giving a boost to Republican frontrunner Scott McInnis, who was already leading in the polls.

If Salazar entered the fray, however, the dynamics of the race could change, according to George Culpepper, the former campaign manager for McInnis who stepped down on Dec. 31 to start his own political consulting company, Western Skies. Culpepper is also a former Kalispell lobbyist who also served on the Flathead County Planning Board.

“It would be a race to the finish line, that’s for sure,” Culpepper said in an interview Wednesday. “Salazar has never lost a statewide race.” He added that the interior secretary would be a more formidable challenge than Ritter.

And if Salazar does run for governor of Colorado, Culpepper said Montana’s governor could be asked to take his place.

“The rumor down here is that, if Ken does run for governor, the Obama administration could select Gov. Brian Schweitzer as interior secretary,” Culpepper said.

Keep in mind that these are just that – rumors. Salazar has not even decided whether to run for governor. But Culpepper isn’t the only Coloradoan to speculate that Schweitzer could be tapped as Salazar’s replacement (see here). And before Salazar was chosen for the post a little over a year ago, Schweitzer was considered a frontrunner for the job. For what it’s worth, political observers have loved to speculate on Schweitzer’s future ever since his rousing 2008 speech at the Democratic convention in Denver, floating his name for energy secretary as well.

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza is reporting that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will stay put and endorse Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper for Colorado governor.