Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dem Leadership Team Announced

House Democrats, in addition to electing a new speaker, chose the other members of the majority caucus leadership team today. The group includes four new faces.

Rep. Paul Weissman of Louisville, who will start his last term in the House in January, will be majority leader.

The assistant majority leader will be Rep. Andy Kerr of Lakewood, while the majority caucus chair will be Aurora's Karen Middleton.

Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, returns to the leadership team as majority whip, assisted by Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins.

The assistant caucus chair is newly-elected Rep. Sal Pace of Pueblo.

The speaker-to-be of the 67th General Assembly, Rep. Terrance Carroll of Denver, said he expects the Democrats' leadership team to "hit the ground running."

“We have lawyers, cowboys, teachers, ranchers and engineers in our caucus, and we have members that hail from every part of the state,” Carroll said. “Together, we really look like Colorado and we truly understand the economic struggles Coloradans face. As the new speaker, I hope to draw on that diversity and tap the talent of every member in our caucus.”

Penry to Lead Senate Republicans

The leader of the Senate's Republicans in 2009 will present a big contrast to its current leader, at least in terms of age.

Sen. Josh Penry of Grand Junction, who is in his early 30s, will replace the retiring Andy McElhany of Colorado Springs, who is well into his 60s.

The election of Penry as the new senate minority leader occurred at a senate GOP caucus meeting today, where Republicans also elected Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray as assistant minority leader, re-elected Sen. Mike Kopp of Littleton as caucus chair, and selected veteran Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial as GOP whip.

Penry took note of the difficult economic situation likely to face the General Assembly when it convenes in January after his selection as the new senate minority leader.

"A lot of heavy lifting awaits the General Assembly in January, and the public expects both parties to come together and get to work on issues like the economy, transportation and the budget," Penry said.

He also said he would reach out to Democrats and Gov. Bill Ritter.

"Especially after such an acrimonious campaign season, Coloradans are fed up with petty politics and endless squabbling," Penry said. "They'd like us to be adults, do our jobs and make government work."

But other members of the new GOP leadership team in the senate pointed out that the party must remain true to its principles.

"We are the last line of defense for taxpayers and business owners," Spence said.

Republican senators also chose Sen.-elect Al White of Hayden to fill a slot on the joint budget committee.

Ritter Names Committee to Help Choose New Secretary of State

Gov. Bill Ritter appointed today a committee aimed at assisting him in choosing a replacement for Secretary of State Mike Coffman.

The committee, which will have seven members, will review applications submitted by Nov. 17 and recommend three finalists to the governor in December.

"It’s one of the most important positions in state government," Ritter said. "This selection committee will provide a broad spectrum of insights, perspectives and guidance as we select a replacement for departing Secretary Mike Coffman.”

Committee members include:

- Frank Daniels, former district attorney for the 21st Judicial District in Mesa County. Daniel served as district attorney from 1993 to 2005. He currently works in private practice and runs a small business in Grand Junction.

- Tom Downey, president of the Children’s Museum of Denver. Downey is an attorney who has worked in both the public and private sectors. He is the current chair of the board of the Colorado Nonprofit Association.

- Scott Doyle, Larimer County clerk and recorder. Doyle began his tenure with the county in 1995. He was chief deputy clerk and recorder from October 2000 until his election as clerk and recorder in November 2002, creating and first utilizing the Vote Center concept in 2003. He was re-elected clerk and recorder in November 2006.

- Sandy Gutierrez, president and CEO of the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves on Gov. Ritter’s Jobs Cabinet and is the vice chair of the Pueblo Human Relations Commission, which she helped co-found.

- Rico Munn, executive director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Prior to becoming executive director in January 2007, Munn was a private-practice litigation attorney. He served on the State Board of Education from 2003 to 2007.

- Carol Snyder, former Adams County clerk and recorder. Snyder served on the Northglenn City Council for three years and in the Colorado House of Representatives from January 1991 to January 1999. She is currently the Adams County public trustee.

- Geoff Wilson, general counsel for the Colorado Municipal League. Wilson helps draft legislation and represents the league before the state legislature, state agencies and the courts on matters affecting municipalities. He has been with the league since 1987.

Coffman, a Republican, was elected to represent Colorado's 6th district in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 4. He previously served as state treasurer and as a member of the General Assembly.

Terrance Carroll is New House Speaker

Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, was chosen as the new speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives today.

Carroll, who served as assistant majority leader this past session, will be the first African-American speaker in the state's history.

The slot opens up when Rep. Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, and the speaker since January 2005, leaves the house in early January. Romanoff is term-limited.

Observers originally believed that Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, would be the next speaker. However, Buescher was defeated in his bid for re-election Tuesday.

Carroll joins Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, as a legislative trailblazer in the Centennial State. Groff, chosen as senate president last January, is the first African-American to hold that legislative post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dems Increase State Senate Majority

Democrats grew their majority in the state senate Tuesday as they picked up one seat and held off several strong challenges to seats they held in the 66th General Assembly.

Businesswoman Linda Newell of Littleton held off former GOP Rep. Lauri Clapp for the District 26 seat being vacated by Sen. Steve Ward, R-Littleton. At the time of this writing Newell was leading by less than 100 votes out of more than 53,000 cast in the district.

Meanwhile, state school board member Evie Hudak held off Republican Libby Szabo for the Jefferson County seat now held by Sen. Sue Windels, D-Arvada, and Rep. Morgan Carroll of Aurora defeated Suzanne Andrews. That District 29 seat is now held by Sen. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora.

In addition, Rep. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, beat the GOP's Robert Hadfield in District 29 and Democrat Joyce Foster outran Republican Robert Lane in District 35.

Republicans didn't pick up any seats in the senate but several new GOP members will arrive in January. They include Mark Scheffel of Parker in District 4,
Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, in District 8, and former Rep. and house majority leader Keith King of Colorado Springs in District 12.

The GOP's Shawn Mitchell held off a spirited challenge from Democrat Joe Whitcomb to hold on to his Broomfield-area seat.

Dems Hold House Majority; Buescher Loses

Democrats held on to their majority in the state House of Representatives Tuesday, but face the next session without the man many predicted would be the next speaker.

Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, conceded defeat to the GOP's Laura Bradford.

Buescher, the powerful joint budget committee chairman and the man most observers expected to replace term-limited Rep. Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, as speaker in January, was losing by less than 600 votes out of more than 34,000 cast, according to a report in the Denver Post.

Democrats picked up a seat in usually-Republican Colorado Springs, with Dennis Apuan defeating Kit Roupe in District 17.

Republicans also regained the District 40 seat, which is being vacated by term-limited Rep. Debbie Stafford. Stafford was a Republican until changing her party affiliation to Democratic before the 2008 legislative session.

Cindy Acree accumulated nearly 59 percent of the vote in dispatching Karen Wilde.

The GOP also picked up the District 30 seat. Republican Kevin Priola defeated Democrat Dave Rose.

Other new faces in the House include Democrat Lois Court in District 6, Beth McCann in District 8, Joe Miklosi in District 9, Dickey Hullinghorst in District 10, Sue Schafer in District 24, Su Ryden in District 36, Sal Pace in District 46, and Edward Vigil in District 62. New representatives also include Republicans Mark Waller in District 15, Cheri Gerou in District 25, Carole Murray in District 45, Randy Baumgardner in District 57 and Scott Tipton in District 58.

The Democrats net loss was 2 seats. They will have a 38-27 majority when the 67th General Assembly convenes in January.