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Coors Chairman Expected to Make Senate Bid

Gov. Bill Owens (search) said Wednesday that the head of the Coors brewing empire, Peter H. Coors (search), will be a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate this fall.

"I talked to him an hour and a half ago and he is going to run," Owens said after a briefing on the state's wildfire season. "I think Pete Coors would make an outstanding senator."

Coors, the chairman of Coors Brewing Co. (search) and Adolph Coors Co. (RKY), did not immediately return a message left at his offices in Golden.

His candidacy would set up a primary fight against conservative former Rep. Bob Schaffer (search) and the possibility of a general election battle against the Democratic front-runner, Attorney General Ken Salazar (search). Even before Coors was mentioned as a candidate, the race was being closely watched by national party officials because the GOP holds a slim 51-49 edge in the Senate.

Schaffer has been the only high-profile GOP candidate in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, but he has not won the support of many top party officials. Earlier this week, he told party members that he needed money.

Owens, who rejected a Senate bid earlier this year, said he had told Schaffer he would offer his support.

"I'll need to talk to Bob Schaffer and make sure he's going to stay in the race, and I'll make a judgment between these two candidates shortly," Owens said.

Coors, 57, is a scion of a family business that spans more than a century. He is the great-grandson of Adolph Coors, who founded the Golden brewery in 1873.

Coors graduated from the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., in 1965, received a bachelor's degree in engineering from Cornell University in 1969 and later earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Denver. He serves on the boards of several conservation groups and is a former national president of Ducks Unlimited.

In 1993, Coors was named vice chairman and chief executive of Coors Brewing Co. In 2002, he was named chairman of Adolph Coors Co. and Coors Brewing Co.