The statement came a day after Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colo.) formally announced he would not seek re-election in November.
"Colorado needs a strong, experienced leader with optimism and new ideas for carrying our state forward," Salazar stated in the release. "That is why I am endorsing John Hickenlooper for Governor of Colorado."
Ultmiately, Salazar cited his work at the Department of the Interior as the reason he would not run in 2010.
"It's a job that's very important for our nation and for our world and I'm proud to be working here with President Obama as we move forward with a clean-energy economy, we take on a great outdoors America and conservation program for out country, and as we do a lot more for the young people of this country," Salazar said in an interview on Thursday. "So I have this job to do and that's the job that I'm doing right now as Secretary of Interior. I believe that the governor's office and being governor of Colorado would be a great job, but this is a time for someone else to take that mantle and to run with it."
On Wednesday, hours after Ritter announced his intention to focus on his family, rather than a re-election campaign, Hickenlooper held a news conference in which he said he would defer a run at the governor's mansion to the Interior Secretary, if he wanted it.
"I know John and Helen will seriously consider this historic opportunity that will define the future of the State of Colorado and her people," Salazar stated. "This is a personal decision they must make and I will fully respect that decision."
Later on Thursday, Salazar continued to heap praise on Hickenlooper.
"John Hickenlooper is an extraordinary individual. He can bring people together in a very divided environment and at the end of the day, Colorado needs to have problem fixers, Colorado needs to have a uniter," Salazar said. "John Hickenlooper is that uniter and under his leadership, his extraordinary leadership, Colorado's best days are still very much ahead."
Hickenlooper released a statement saying he's flattered by Salazar's support, but he's going to take his time deciding if he wants to enter the race.
"We are very grateful and honored for Secretary Salazar's support," Hickenlooper stated. "Secretary Salazar is one of Colorado's finest and we greatly admire his public service. This doesn't change our course. My family and I will take the appropriate time to consider whether a run for governor is the right thing to do."
When directly asked by 9NEWS if he would run for governor, Hickenlooper would only say in an e-mail: "Battery dead."
On Tuesday night, when asked the same question by 9NEWS, Hickenlooper e-mailed: "Battery running down."
The Republican Party has two candidates who have declared their candidacy for the 2010 gubernatorial race: former Rep. Scott McInnis and Evergreen businessman Dan Maes.
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