DENVER – Attorney General Ken Salazar (search) began revamping his Senate campaign Monday after losing the top spot on the Democratic primary ballot to political novice Mike Miles over the weekend.
Delegates at the state convention in Pueblo stunned both camps and gave Miles 52 percent of the vote, compared to 48 percent for Salazar. Candidates needed 30 percent to get on the ballot.
The victory means Miles gets top billing on the Aug. 10 primary ticket, and Salazar will have to reassure supporters he is a viable candidate. He has been the favorite of party officials in part because of his experience in statewide elections and his appeal to Hispanics.
Salazar campaign chairman Mike Stratton said 400 committed delegates failed to show up Saturday because they believed Salazar had the top spot on the ballot locked up.
The campaign is now contacting delegates to make sure they are ready to go to work on the primary, Stratton said. Salazar also is preparing for a statewide series of debates with Miles, including rural areas where Salazar believes he will fare well.
"We're certainly focusing on the next phase, which is the primary election," Stratton said. "Now we think we have a playing field more conducive to us than the caucus playing field."
Miles, too, said he is shifting gears to target all 865,000 registered Democrats in Colorado, not just the more active party members who tend to be delegates.
Miles said Salazar lost top billing because he backed issues including public school vouchers and the war in Iraq, which appeal to unaffiliated voters and Republicans, instead of focusing on Democratic issues.
Miles, a principal from the Colorado Springs area, said vouchers will not work without federal financial support and he opposed the invasion of Iraq.
Top GOP candidates in the race include beer executive Peter Coors and former Rep. Bob Schaffer.