Nighthorse Campbell Retires

Ron Gunzburgers:

US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) unexpectedly announced on Wednesday that he was ending his 2004 campaign for re-election. “I feel the time has come to pass that duty on to another and return to my ranch with my family that I love,” said Campbell. The Senator, 70, said that a hospitalization last week for severe heartburn that mimicked the symptoms of a heart attack forced him to reflect on his health. He acknowledged last year that he is also undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, but his doctors gave him a “98% chance” of recovery. On top of that, Campbell’s office is facing increasing scrutiny in recent days related to purported salary kickback scheme involving his Chief of Staff and another aide. Still, Campbell was favored to win re-election because the Democrats had been unable to produce a top-level challenger. Campbell was first elected to Congress as a Democrat, but switched parties after his election to the US Senate. With Campbell out of the race, most observers believe term-limited Governor Bill Owens (R) will quickly jump into the contest. Other possible new candidates for the seat may include retiring Congressman Scott McInnis (R) and Congressman Mark Udall (D).


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. dw says:

    This could be an interesting race if Owens jumps in. There’s been a lot of talk about him making a presidential run in 2008, but Owens is a grandstander who loves putting his foot in his mouth. He loves the sound of his own voice. Imagine if you crossed the plain-talking style of Dubya with Dean’s rebel yell then mixed in a dash of Marge Schott.

    Owens would have a good shot at winning the Senate seat, but it’ll be a hot race if the Dems throw up McInnis or Udall. If Owens declines, I don’t see anyone the GOP can offer who could beat either of them. It wouldn’t be the disaster they’re having in Oklahoma with that Senate race, but they need Owens in this race.

    Big wild card: If Udall and McInnis decline, will Roy Romer be on the next flight out of LAX?

  2. rgardner says:

    I don’t live in CO, but I’ve been to Native American pow-wows (Ft Robinson NE) where the pride in Senator Campbell was very great. Particularly among the Northern Arapaho. I also loved his website, where one of the first things you saw was a statement that he is not in the business of proposing useless legislation that will never pass. In fact, I pointed out his website to many others as an example of reality, versus hype. He will be missed.