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November 16, 2015 02:11 PM UTC

These People Won't Be the Next Lieutenant Governor of Colorado

  • by: Colorado Pols
But can the next Lt. Governor do THIS?
But can the next Lt. Governor do THIS?

Last week’s surprise news that Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia will soon resign from office has led to some natural speculation about Garcia’s potential replacement. Governor John Hickenlooper will reportedly name a replacement LG sometime within the next few weeks, and that person will need to be confirmed by a highly-partisan Colorado legislature.

Aside from being the next person in line to serve as Governor in the event that the big office is vacated before the next election, we couldn’t tell you a whole lot about what the LG actually does on a daily basis. We could tell you even less prior to 2010, when Hickenlooper expanded Garcia’s role by also naming him head of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. The LG’s office has not historically been a stepping stone to…anything in Colorado politics

The Colorado Statesman is running a couple of online polls speculating about the next name to get the LG title (here’s Poll 1, and here’s Poll 2). While we haven’t heard much about who might get the nomination from Hickenlooper, there are a few names from the Statesman polls that we can probably already cross out.

If Hickenlooper chooses an LG from the ranks of the state legislature, there are three Democratic lawmakers in the Statesman polls that can probably go ahead and cross themselves off of any list: State Rep. Crisanta Duran, and State Senators Linda Newell and Angela Williams. 

Back in May 2015, Duran, Newell, and Williams all signed onto a letter to Gov. Hickenlooper stating that they had “lost confidence” in the leadership at the Department of Human Services and urging Hickenlooper to make leadership changes at DHS. We’re not going to use this space to debate the relative policy merits of the DHS letter; from a political perspective, you’re not earning points with your Party’s own Governor when you publicly sign your name to a letter questioning his decision making.

Linda Newell, Crisanta Duran, and Angela Williams
Linda Newell, Crisanta Duran, and Angela Williams

This would hold true in any state, or any organization, for that matter. When you give somebody in your professional circle a public wedgie, you probably shouldn’t hold out any hope that you might get a big promotion 6 months later.

On the flip side, it makes sense that state Sen. Mike Johnston would be on the Statesman’s list of potential LG candidates. Johnston and fellow Democrat Millie Hamner are two high-profile legislators who did NOT sign onto the DHS letter last spring. If you are Gov. Hickenlooper and you’re thinking about who to select as your Lt. Governor, you’re probably going to start your search with people whose support you don’t need to question. That’s not just politics — that’s human nature.

It’s possible — perhaps even likely, given recent historical trends — that Hickenlooper will pick a Lt. Gov. who is not a sitting legislator. Both Garcia and Barbara O’Brien, Gov. Bill Ritter’s LG, were working outside of state government when they were selected as running mates. But if Hick does decide to go with someone already under the Gold Dome, it’s going to be a Democrat — and it’s going to be somebody Hickenlooper knows will stand behind his decisions.


7 thoughts on “These People Won’t Be the Next Lieutenant Governor of Colorado

  1. Johnston is an anti-labour, anti- union activist, yes? A DINO? 'Democrats for Education Reform', AKA destroy the teachers union and attack teachers at will?

  2. Please not Mike Johnston.  He has done more to destroy public education that anyone else.  I am a constituent, and I have asked to meet with him to talk about SB191 several times.  No response.  I was at the Capitol and asked to speak with him.  The Sergeant gave him the card, he looked right at me, and ignored it.  I will never vote for him.

    1. I completely agree.  I have only met a few people in local/state politics who rival Mike Johnston for arrogance and unresponsiveness.  I cannot imagine what positives he would bring with him beyond an ability to fog the mirror.

  3. Gray is right. Nobody from the leg unless it's a completely safe seat. Newell's certainly isn't so scratch her. It's such a bucket of warm spit job with such negligible value as a stepping stone It really doesn't matter much as long as it's someone competent to handle the job without causing headaches and not someone who represents a loss elsewhere. 

    1. Actually if Newell stepped down – Hick won't appoint her because of the DHS letter business – Dan Kagan could be appointed via vacancy committee and run as an incumbent. Although given how popular incumbent office holders are today, that's more likely to hurt than help him.

      Maybe give it to Rollie Heath as a retirement gift. He stepped up to the plate in '02 when the Dems were trying to find someone to run against Owens.

      1. SD 26 has always been a safe R seat until Linda stumbled into it due to a convergence of very specific circumstances I won't go into here but let's just say a perfect storm that left some burnt bridges on the R side and won it the first time by a handful of votes. We used to jokingly refer to her as landslide Linda. She pretty much went for it in the first place never dreaming of winning just so we could have a candidate. Since then she managed to hang onto it with whatever advantage incumbency provides and pretty good name rec for a State Senate seat holder, something most voters are barely aware exists and lord knows how many doors you'd have to knock on to find someone who can name theirs.

        Just as the Rs spent a fortune (1 and 1/2 million) to take back HD38 from the only Dem ever to be elected (the first in over 35 years at the time, I believe) and subsequently reelected to it, Joe Rice, they will do their best to take back SD 26 at the nearest opportunity. It would be silly to take her out of that seat at a time like this. It's not as if we have seats to spare. We're talking about a seat that when I first moved into the district Dems didn't bother to seriously contes, if at all. Or HD 38 either for that matter. But, as you say, it's not worth quibbling about after that letter. Probably not one of Hick's besties. Do like Kagan a lot though. Linda’s quite conservative for a Dem.

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