Joe Salazar Andrew Romanoff Election 2020

Former state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, executive director of anti-fracking organization Colorado Rising, endorses Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff in a video posted online on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

In what could be the day's least surprising development, former state Rep. Joe Salazar on Wednesday made it official that he's endorsing former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in Colorado's Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

At the same time, Salazar, the executive director of anti-fracking organization Colorado Rising, made clear that he's rejecting Romanoff's primary opponent, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, citing the fossil fuel industry's rapid growth in the state on Hickenlooper's watch.

Hickenlooper and Romanoff are facing off in a June primary to decide which Democrat runs against Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in the fall.

When they both occupied the Capitol, Salazar and Hickenlooper frequently clashed over oil and gas legislation, and Salazar has made no bones about his disdain for the former petroleum geologist.

"Andrew has always been there for us to listen to our concerns," says Salazar, in a video released Wednesday by the Romanoff campaign that depicts Salazar standing in a field he describes as "ground zero in the frack zone."

"You see these types of sites all along the metro area and all up and down the Front Range. You see them right outside of homes, outside of schools. Affecting our land, affecting our air, and affecting our water," Salazar says over clips of drilling sites and smokestacks.

Then, as footage featuring Hickenlooper fills the screen, Salazar adds: "You see these sites because of one administration and one governor allowed this proliferation to happen. That’s not what we need anymore."

Romanoff has made his support for the Green New Deal a centerpiece of his campaign, regularly castigating Hickenlooper, a former petroleum geologist, for his coziness with the oil and gas industry.

Two years ago, Hickenlooper drew sharp criticism from Salazar when the governor endorsed Salazar's primary rival in the attorney general race, Phil Weiser, who went on to win the primary and general election.

Saying Weiser was running "a positive, optimistic campaign about ideas aimed at building up all of Colorado," Hickenlooper noted that Salazar had declined to sign something created by the state Democratic Party called the Clean Campaign Pledge.

Salazar fired back: “Governor Hickenlooper’s endorsement of my opponent is a concession that they see themselves losing. I won’t be controlled by a governor or by corporate interests and I certainly will not bow to an oil and gas industry that is beloved by Hickenlooper.”

A spokesman for the Hickenlooper campaign didn't respond to a request for comment about Salazar's Romanoff endorsement.

Primary ballots start going out to Colorado voters on June 9 and are due back to county clerks by June 30.

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