The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the selection yesterday of Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale to replace Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who is resigning after a long controversy over Baumgardner’s serial sexual harassment of women at the Capitol:
Baumgardner’s resignation is effective Jan. 21. That’s when Rankin will be sworn in as his replacement. A new vacancy committee for his House district seat will be formed to replace him. Rankin said he expects to continue to serve on the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee.
Baumgardner, who was re-elected to Senate District 8 in 2016 and had two more years to serve before being term limited, said he would “retire” from the Senate to spare his family from that controversy.
During last year’s session, the 63-year-old senator faced two investigations of suspected multiple incidents of sexually harassing women inside the state Capitol. Those investigations said there was substantial evidence to indicate that he was a “boob grabber” who repeatedly showed a propensity to sexually harass female staffers, including right outside the Senate chambers.
Bob Rankin has a reputation as one of the more level-headed Republicans serving in the Colorado House, befitting his service on the powerful Joint Budget Committee and providing a sorely-needed degree of professionalism in a frequently immoderate Republican caucus. We’ll never forget when Rankin took on the gun lobby by unsuccessfully proposing a public relations campaign to debunk the wild falsehoods about the state’s 2013 gun reforms–in marked contrast to most Republican lawmakers who were busy spreading those very same falsehoods. And yes, Rankin also voted to expel ex-Rep. Steve Lebsock from the House last year, further distinguishing himself from Baumgardner’s soiled legacy.
All told, Rankin’s appointment to Baumgardner’s SD-8 seat is a hopeful development for the Colorado Senate’s incoming GOP minority. Unfortunately for Rankin, it’s not likely to be the final word. Debra Irvine, a “Tea Party” activist from Summit County contested Rankin for the SD-8 appointment and is likely to run in the 2020 GOP primary for the seat. Irvine’s much more strident conservative platform and grassroots support could upend the primary against a less-exciting incumbent Sen. Rankin.
For today, though, we’re calling Rankin a win for adulting in the Colorado Senate.