Colorado Republican, and veteran Senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell is calling it quits.
Campbell made the announcement Wednesday morning. He will not seek re-election. He says his recent health problems played some part in his decision. In a statement released Wednesday, the Senator said, after a great deal of soul searching and reflection, he came to this decision.
Senator Campbell has faced a lot of questions about his health, since he announced last year that he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. In Wednesday's statement, the Senator said he plans to return to his ranch and spend time with his family.
Senator Campbell is the only Native American in the Senate. He was elected in 1992 as a Democrat and switched parties in 1995. Local Republicans call this a real loss to the ticket. The El Paso County Republican Party Chair, Leland Gilbert, says, “Obviously we're disappointed to lose Senator Campbell from the ticket. His seniority, of course, is important to us.”
The announcement also gives other candidates an opportunity to run for Senator. Democrat Mike Miles says he thinks it will help him. Other Democrats, like former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and former Senator Gary Hart, previously decided not to run against Senator Campbell. However, one analyst says now all bets are off concerning who will run for the seat.
Republican candidate Dan O'bryant has been running against the Senator for the Republican nod, but doesn't think this is good news for his campaign. O'bryant says if Owens throws in his hat, he will have to re-assess his campaign. He says both he and the Governor are conservative, while Senator Campbell is more moderate.
Shortly after Senator Campbell's announcement, Governor Owens issued a statement. In it he thanks Campbell for his years of service. He says, “Ben Nighthorse Campbell is a Colorado legend. He has served the people of colorado tirelessly for more than two decades.”