Our latest poll from Research 2000 in Colorado shows tight races in the early going for both the senate and governor seats, and a general "meh" towards all candidates in both races--no one breaks the 50 percent threshold.
That said, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's decision to run for governor seems to give the Dems the best chance at retaining the seat. He's tied with the Republican leader, former Congressman Scott McInnis at 43, whereas other potential candidates Ken Salazar (who decided not to run late last week), Colorado House speaker Andrew Romanoff, and Rep. Ed Perlmutter all trail McInnis, Salazar by 2, Romanoff by 5, and Perlmutter by 8.
Beyond our numbers, Hickenlooper is regarded as the strongest candidate within the state, and has Republicans worried.
From former Rep. Bob Beauprez in The Colorado Statesman last February:
I'm guessing John Hickenlooper has name ID that rivals the governor's, maybe exceeds the governor's. I'm guessing that John Hickenlooper has 4:1 favorable/unfavorables statewide. There isn't enough money in the world to peel that down to 1:1 - to where you could maybe beat him.
John Hickenlooper could claim - he won't do it because he's got enough humility to not do it - but he could claim that the DNC was successful in large part because of his efforts to raise the money. He not only has a Rolodex with names in it, they are successful names.
John could raise more money and be more easily elected. His appointment would have taken that seat almost completely off the table. I don't know what John could have done to make it truly competitive. [Pols emphasis]
Here's what Wadhams had to say about Hickenlooper in December 2008, when Hick was being considered as a replacement in the U.S. Senate for Ken Salazar:
Dick Wadhams, the state GOP chairman, conceded that Hickenlooper "is immensely popular as the mayor of Denver" but said "he'll look a lot different after two years of votes in the U.S. Senate."
On the Senate side, Romanoff is running a primary challenge to Sen. Mike Bennet that has yet to gain much steam. There's been speculation that he'd switch races, and run for Governor, but Hickenlooper's entrance in the race makes that unlikely. Bennet is in a statistical dead heat with likely Republican challenger (and tea party courter) Jane Norton, former lieutenant governor. He has just a one point advantage, with Romanoff trailing Norton by two.
With none of the frontrunners in either position running above 43 (and Obama at 46 favorable), Colorado is definitely in swing state territory again this round. Note that the polling was completed before Hickenlooper's announced decision to enter the race, which might have given him another point or two.