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Senate Candidate Discussed Job With White House

A Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Colorado says the White House tried to persuade him not to run and offered him a job if he dropped out of the race.

Andrew Romanoff upset the Democratic establishment in Colorado last fall when he announced plans to challenge incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in the Aug. 10 primary. Now, Romanoff says President Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina called him last September and said three positions might be available to him were he to drop out of the race.

Romanoff says Messina never made any guarantees, and no job offer was ever made.

In an e-mail, Romanoff said two of the jobs were executive positions with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the third was director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Romanoff said he told Messina that he was staying in the race and the two never had contact again.

This comes just after the administration admitted orchestrating a similar job offer in the Pennsylvania Senate race. The White House counsel says the administration did nothing illegal or unethical in that case.

But the back-room deals — former President Clinton led the Pennsylvania effort — called into question Obama's repeated promises to run an open government.

Earlier, a White House official insisted nothing inappropriate or illegal took place but didn't provide the details Romanoff offered in a statement and a copy of an e-mail he had received from Messina.

"Mr. Romanoff was recommended to the White House from Democrats in Colorado for a position in the administration," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. "There were some initial conversations with him, but no job was ever offered."

Messina, a tough-minded veteran of Senate politics and one of the president's best fixers, spoke with Romanoff on Sept. 11, 2009, and suggested that Romanoff might better use his time at the USAID.

"He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions," Romanoff said in the statement.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report