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McInnis Announcement Expected Early Next Year

Former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) is giving every indication that he plans to run for the Senate seat being vacated in 2008 by Sen. Wayne Allard (R), with a formal announcement set to come early next year.

McInnis said he is in the midst of assembling a campaign and fundraising team, noting that he already has secured the support of some key Denver-based Republican contributors. McInnis, who still has almost $1 million sitting in his old House campaign account, said he has fundraising commitments and has received positive feedback on his prospective bid from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“We’re very confident we can win statewide,” McInnis said in a telephone interview this week. “Right now the real focus is putting the team together.”

Even if Allard hadn’t decided to retire at the conclusion of his second term, Colorado was sure to be targeted by Democrats in 2008. The state recently elected a Democratic governor, Democrats swiped a House seat from the Republicans, and the party is holding its presidential nominating convention in Denver.

McInnis said news reports of Colorado’s leftward tilt have been exaggerated, noting the state has a long history of being competitive and electing Democrats and Republicans to statewide office. But he did say that it will be very difficult for Republicans to hold this seat if the NRSC doesn’t make a firm commitment to back the GOP candidate and get involved early.

“They’ve got to be a big player, and they’ve got to commit early. This is not a race that is a lock for Republicans,” McInnis said.

NRSC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said the committee has made Colorado a top priority and plans to do everything in its power to hold Allard’s seat.

Meanwhile, The Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper reported Wednesday that former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) is in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss a possible run for the Senate, though he remains coy on his intentions. Also Wednesday, the Rocky Mountain News reported that Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson (R) definitely was not running.

“I already have a great job here serving the president and the veterans,” Nicholson said this week. “I’ve decided to keep on doing it.”

Schaffer, who lost the 2004 GOP Senate primary to beer magnate Pete Coors, told Roll Call last week that he is not inclined to run in 2008 absent the overwhelming backing of Republicans in his state. Schaffer also said a divisive primary would be detrimental to Republicans’ chances of holding the seat, and he suggested it would best for such a race to be avoided.

On the Democratic side, party insiders are bent on keeping the field clear for Rep. Mark Udall, the only announced candidate.

— David M. Drucker