Jerry Kopel

The Colorado campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in 1998 began Nov. 6th when Gov. Roy Romer told News reporter John Sanko he would "probably have to think about the Senate race". News columnist Peter Blake then speculated Romer might not be welcome in a Clinton Cabinet and that was why Romer was focusing on the senate race.

If Romer does run for the U.S. Senate in 1998, he will probably lose, based on historical preferences by Colorado voters. Why? Age. In November, 1998, Gov. Romer will be 70 years old. No one in the past sixty years, and possibly ever, has been elected to a first term in the U.S. Senate from Colorado aged 70.

Here are the preceding 12 U.S. Senators by name, birth date, age when entering the Senate and length of service. Edwin Johnson, born Jan. 1, 1884, age 53, served 1937 to 1955. Eugene Millikin, born Feb. 12, 1891, age 51, served 1942 to 1957. Gordon Allott, born Jan.2, 1907, age 48, served 1955 to 1973.

John Carroll, born July 30, 1901, age 55, served 1957 to 1963. Peter Dominick, born July 7, 1915, age 47, served 1963 to 1975. Floyd Haskell, born Feb. 7, 1916, age 57, served 1973 to 1979. Gary Hart, born Nov.28, 1937, age 37, served 1975 to 1987.

Bill Armstrong, born March 16, 1937, age 41, served 1979 to 1991. Tim Wirth, born Sept. 22, 1939, age 47, served 1987 to 1993. Hank Brown, born Feb. 12, 1940, age 51, served 1991 to 1997. Ben Campbell, born April 13, 1933, age 59, served 1993 to 1999. Wayne Allard, born Dec.2, 1943, age 53, served 1997 to 2003.

Of the twelve most recent senators, the oldest upon entering the U.S. Senate was 11 years younger than Romer would be in 1999 and the oldest on leaving office was five years younger than Romer would be in 2005.

If Romer stays as governor until 1998, he will leave office at age 70, the third oldest sitting governor of the state of Colorado. Only Billy Adams and Ed Johnson left the governorship at an older age.

Adams was born Feb. 15, 1862 and left office aged 70 years, 10 months and five days. Ed Johnson, who never passed a farmhouse without stopping in to say "hello", served two terms as governor from 1933 to 1937, went to the U.S. Senate for 18 years, served as governor again from 1955 to 1957, retiring at age 73. Romer, born Oct.31, 1928, will be 70 years and two months of age if he completes his third term.

Have Colorado governors run for and been elected to the U.S. Senate? There have been three in the past 120 years. The last was Ed Johnson back in 1937. The first was Charles S. Thomas, born Dec. 6, 1849 who served as governor from 1899 to 1901. He didn't become a U.S. Senator until 1913 at age 63 and he served until 1921.

The second was John Shafroth who was born June 9, 1854 and served as governor from 1909 to 1913. He was elected senator in 1913 at age 58, (the same year as Charles Thomas) and served until 1919.

Romer appears to be in excellent health and that might well be the prognosis for 1998. But opponents will successfully use Romer's age as an issue, just as they did in 73-year-old Bob Dole's bid for the presidency.

Democrats don't need a side-issue dominating the 1998 U.S. Senate campaign. They already had that happen to them in 1996.

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