Some states have significantly less drama around their Senate appointments than, say, Illinois. Take Colorado, where Governor Bill Ritter has engaged in a low-key search to replace incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that Michael Bennet will get the job.
Denver Public Schools superintendent Michael Bennet is expected to be named Saturday as the future U.S. Senate replacement for Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar, according to two Democratic sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Bennet was a reformer superintendent in the Joel Klein mold, who instituted a pay-for-performance plan on the city's schools and got the teachers to agree to it. The plan raised starting salaries for teachers and provided bonuses for student achievement. This does move the balance of power in the internal debate between reformers and teacher advocates in the Democratic Party. At one point he was considered a leading candidate for President-elect Obama's education secretary. He was also Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's chief of staff at one point.
Bennet was very close to being an Obama cabinet member, so one presumes his voting record would line up pretty well with the President-elect. Of course, Ken Salazar IS an Obama cabinet member, so it's unclear whether or not this is an improvement. One worry is that he's fairly unknown outside of Denver and may have trouble in a statewide race in 2010. Two years of incumbency should help that, however.
And of course, this is the complete wrong way to handle a Senate vacancy, which should clearly be done by special election, allowing the people to determine their own representation.
...I'm assuming that the Senate sergeant-at-arms will bar the door and refuse Bennet entry into the Senate chamber, as per current practice.