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As Obama Finalizes Cabinet, More Senate Seats in Question

Lawmakers are still grappling with how to fill the open Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama, while Obama's latest selections to his Cabinet will create more high-level vacancies. Stuart Rothenberg gives an update on how the seats might be filled.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    President-elect Obama's selection of Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as his interior secretary has set off another scramble to fill a soon- to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat.

    The Rocky Mountain State joins Illinois, New York, and Minnesota on the list of states still grappling with whom will represent them in Washington.

    Here with some background in all this is Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report.

    Stu, thank you for being with us.

  • STUART ROTHENBERG, Rothenberg Political Report:

    Sure.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And let's start with Colorado, since that's the newest opening. The president did choose Ken Salazar, the senator from there, to be — to go to the Interior Department.

    But, first, there's been some interesting reaction to the fact that Salazar was chosen.

  • STUART ROTHENBERG:

    Well, there are some Democrats in town, Judy, who are not thrilled with the selection — not because they don't like former congressman, now soon-to-be Interior Secretary Salazar. Not at all. That's not the point, is that they thought he was really effective in the United States Senate. They were certain that he could be re-elected in two years.

    And so taking him out of the Senate causes some headaches for Democratic operatives who now have to worry about a new candidate. Will he or she hold the seat? What kind of candidate will he or she be? And just taking Salazar out of the Senate, where he was very highly regarded.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now, the choice is up to the governor of Colorado, the Democrat, Bill Ritter. What are the names that are in the running?

  • STUART ROTHENBERG:

    Well, we're hearing four or five names that include Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

    But the two names we hear most often are John Salazar, the congressman from Colorado's Third District, the older brother of Ken Salazar, and John Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver.

    Both men have pretty good statewide name recognition. Certainly, the Salazar name following Salazar would be convenient for Democrats, although it raises some questions about too many Salazars running for office, the same office.

    Hickenlooper was elected in 2003, re-elected in 2007, very popular, a businessman who started by owning a brew pub in Denver and that now has expanded statewide.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Interesting how many family names come up in all these Senate seats.

  • STUART ROTHENBERG:

    Absolutely.

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