Ken Salazar was a major force in Colorado politics and policy for two decades, but his absence from the state and his brother’s loss of the 3rd Congressional District race raises questions about his political future and the strength of the name as a political brand.
The Secretary of the Interior job is always controversial. It has high-profile, often controversial, issues with powerful conflicting interests. Ken was burdened in 2010 with having to manage a Katrina-sized environmental disaster in the Gulf.
Also importantly, cabinet secretaries rise and fall with their bosses, and President Obama had a terrible 2010. Salazar appears to remain in Obama’s favor and his political base in Colorado and Hispanic heritage are important assets for an administrator going into a tough re-election.
John Salazar could stay in government service. He claims he may run again for congress in 2012. How the District is redistricted will be a factor. Also, 2012 could be another difficult Democratic year. But mostly, John doesn’t have a nine-to-five temperament. He seems most comfortable with his own style and pace. Congress offered that, but so does his ranch.
Ken still has many friends in Colorado, but he could serve as Interior Secretary for six more years, and local politics does move on. His return to Colorado may be more Hank Brown-like; i.e., serving in high level jobs, then running for partisan office.
See also New York Times article: After Tough year, Salazar Brand May be Tarnished