Jerry Kopel

The 1998 United States Senate campaign began Nov. 6th in Colorado and speculation is rife on who will be the U.S. Senate Democratic candidates.

Please scratch Gov. Romer's name from the list. If he runs, he will lose. He can preserve his image and his winning streak by taking a cabinet position with the revised Clinton administration, gradually becoming Clinton's prime advisor, just as he did by taking a cabinet position with the Lamm administration and ending up as the major Machiavelli.

Why will he lose if he runs? Age. 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 came back to Colorado to serve his third term as governor in 1955 after 18 years in the U.S. Senate, and was Colorado's oldest sitting governor. He was born Jan. l, 1884 and left the governor's office at age 73. If Romer, who was born Oct. 31, 1928, completes his third term, he will be 70 years and two months.

Although Romer appears to be in excellent health, opponents will successfully use AGE as an issue, just as in 73-year-old Bob Dole's bid for the presidency. Romer would complete his first term in office at age 76.

Colorado no longer sends real senior citizens to the U.S. Senate. Reviewing the past 42 years of U.S. Senate elections in Colorado, this is what we find:

l. Gordon Allott, born Jan.2, 1907. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1955 to 1973. Entered at age 48, defeated at age 66.

2. John Carroll, born July 30, 1901. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1957 to 1963. Entered at age 55, defeated at age 61.

3. Peter Dominick, born July 7, 1915. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1963 to 1974. Entered at age 47, defeated at age 59.

4. Floyd Haskell, born Feb.7, 1916. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 1979. Entered at nearly age 57, defeated at nearly age 63.

5. Bill Armstrong, born March 16, 1937. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1991. Entered at age 41, retired at age 53.

6. Gary Hart, born Nov. 28, 1937. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to 1987. Entered at age 37, retired at age 49.

7. Tim Worth, born Sept. 22, 1939. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to 1993. Entered at age 47, retired at age 53.

8. Hank Brown, born Feb. 12, 1940. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1991 to 1997. Entered almost 51, left almost 57.

9. Ben Campbell, born April 13, 1933. Served in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 1999. Entered age 59. Could leave aged 65.

10. Wayne Allard, born Dec.2, 1943. Will serve in the U.S. Senate from 1997 to 2003. Entered age 53.

Of the ten most recent senators, the oldest when entering the U.S. Senate was 10 years younger than Romer would be in 1999. Gordon Allott, when he left office at age 66, was still ten years younger than Romer would be in 2004.

Have Colorado governors run for and been elected to the U.S. Senate? Certainly. There have been three, and again, none of them were close to Romer's potential age of 70 years when sworn in as a U.S. Senator.

First was Charles S. Thomas, who was born Dec. 6, 1849 and 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 when he was 71.

Second was John F. Shafroth, who was born June 9, 1854 and served as governor from 1909 to 1913. He was elected senator in 1913 at age 58 and served until 1919 when he was 64.

The third is familier to most of us elder politicians and discussed earlier in this report, Edwin C. Johnson, who never passed a farmhouse without stopping in to say hello. "Big Ed" was born Jan. 1, 1884, served as Colorado governor from 1933 through 1937, went to the U.S. Senate in 1937 at age 53 and stayed there until 1955, when at 71, he served two more years as governor.

Gail Schoettler is, of course, very interested in what Gov. Romer finally decides to do. There have been plenty of first time U.S. cabinet members aged 70 or older. Sliding into the governorship would have pluses and minuses for Schoettler.

On the plus side, she would be running as the incumbent and probably avoid a Democratic primary. She would have built up name recognition without spending a great deal of money, and been able to coax campaign funds from large contributors seeking access to her office.

On the minus side, she would have a record to run on, which the Republican legislature would do its best to damage as much as possible. And if she displayed any signs of weakness in taking on the Republicans, there might well be a Democratic primary.

Gov. Romer will also have to weigh the possibility that Clinton's second term could be spent defending against criminal and civil actions. Ability to produce change by way of cabinet office could be tossed aside in a mad rush to the lifeboats.


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Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel