Liberal U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s campaign has made much hay about Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck’s decision to abandon his race for U.S. Senator in favor of U.S. Rep Cory Gardner. The campaign has even adorably dubbed the decision the “Centennial State Swap”, but as The Denver Post‘s Lynn Bartels writes, Udall may have firsthand experience with stepping down in a race when a better candidate is in the picture:
But Udall knows a little something about stepping aside in a U.S. Senate race.
Ten years ago this month, Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell unexpectedly dropped his re-election bid for the U.S. Senate.
On the night of March 9, then-Congressman Udall dialed reporters. “I’m in,” the mountain climber said. “I’m packing my sleeping bag and racking my ropes, and I’ll have more to say about it tomorrow.”
But think-tank founder Rutt Bridges already was in the race, and Attorney General Ken Salazar had decided to run. The next morning, they ate breakfast at a Westminster restaurant and talked about what to do. Udall and Salazar both still wanted to run.
That afternoon, Udall climbed the steps of the state Capitol and stood by Salazar’s side as Salazar announced he would seek the Democratic nomination. Salazar won that November.
What kind of a deal had been reached in those few hours?
There wasn’t one, Udall’s then- chief of staff, Alan Salazar, said at the time. After breakfast, Udall and his wife and friends huddled together talking about how important it was that a Democrat reclaim the Senate seat.
“Wouldn’t it be really bold,” Udall finally asked, ” if a politician could put aside his ambition and put the party first?”