Bennet to the Senate

BENNET TO THE SENATE…. It looks like Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) is throwing the political world a curveball.

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.

Gov. Bill Ritter is expected to name his U.S. Senate replacement pick on Saturday, ending a brief but frenzied period of speculation about who will take Salazar’s seat.

The AP is reporting the same thing, citing a party insider and a source close the governor.

There have been plenty of rumors about who was on the short list to fill this vacancy, but Bennet’s name was rarely part of the mix. Indeed, I’ve hardly heard of the guy, though Faiz notes that Bennett generated “national attention” for his own on a “pay-for-performance teaching plan to boost incoming teachers’ salaries and increase bonuses for teachers who take tough assignments.”

I talked to a couple of people in Colorado this afternoon, and there’s a general sense of “huh?” in response to this pick. Most notably, many in-state Democrats hoped (and expected) Ritter to pick a more prominent official, with more legislative experience, who knows how to raise money, and would help keep the seat in Democratic hands in the future, as compared to Bennet, who is not well known, has no legislative background, and has never had to raise a war chest. There’s also a concern about diversity — Ritter is replacing a Latino senator with a white guy most in-state voters aren’t especially familiar with.

Who knows, maybe Bennet will be a dynamo who’ll have a significant impact in the Senate. In the meantime, though, it seems like a fairly odd selection.