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January 06, 2009 06:03 PM UTC

Puebloans React To "Michael Who?"

  • by: Colorado Pols

Southern Colorado politicos scratch heads over the selection of Michael Bennet to fill Ken Salazar’s Senate seat, as the Pueblo Chieftain reports:

“Who is this guy? I haven’t a clue,” said Gilbert Ortiz, Sr., a businessman and a member of the Pueblo Area Labor Council. “I’ve been active in state politics for 30 years and I’ve never heard of him. I would have thought the governor would have picked someone Democrats were used to working with.”

Former Pueblo County Democratic Chairman Chuck Rodosevich called the choice “a stunner.” “Wow. That was my first reaction,” Rodosevich said. “When I heard the governor had picked Bennet, I made some calls to other Democrats to find out if they knew something I didn’t. Who is this guy? We were all expecting Ritter to pick someone with name recognition going into the 2010 election. (Former House Speaker) Andrew Romanoff was an obvious choice because he’s campaigned all over the state. I’d imagine the Republicans are pretty excited about this choice.”

…Pueblo County Democratic Chairman Terry Hart said a Bennet visit can’t come too soon.

“I’m flexible and willing to find out who this guy is and what he stands for,” Hart said. “But he needs to get started shoring up that base.

“Personally, he and the governor have a lot of work to do introducing Michael Bennet to Democrats. My phone rang all weekend and the general feeling from local Democrats was who is this guy and why did he get picked?”

Local educators, on the other hand, seem pleased, as the Chieftain reports in a separate article:

John Covington, superintendent of Pueblo City Schools, said, “The appointment of Michael Bennet to fill Sen. Salazar’s seat will be a positive step for public K-12 education for both Colorado and on the national level…

“President-elect Obama has stated as one of his priorities to make significant improvements to the infrastructure of public schools in America. Michael Bennet will bring critical perspectives on systemic change, such as a longer school day and longer school year, which will complement the president-elect’s plans to improve public education,” Covington said.

School District 70 Superintendent Dan Lere also said he was impressed with Ritter’s choice…

“I’m impressed that a superintendent of schools could be looked on as a person who could go to the Senate. If someone called me with that offer, I’d say I don’t think I’m ready to do that. But you’re a lot more involved in state-level politics in Denver than you would be in Pueblo.

“I’m just going to wait and see how he does. If he does as well as a senator as he did as a superintendent, things will turn out very well.”


21 thoughts on “Puebloans React To “Michael Who?”

  1. As Jeff Bridges pointed out in a recent diary, Salazar’s support among Hispanics in Pueblo made his re-election campaign that much easier, and anyone who wants to get re-elected must carry Pueblo by a wide margin if they want to go to bed early on election night 2010.

    Sure, Bennet has the connections to be a mammoth fundraiser, but that’s only half of campaigning. The other half is connecting directly with constituents. Ken Salazar had an uncanny way of being able to connect one-on-one with voters–both white and Hispanic. Will Bennet be able to do that? Or will the lack of a latino name on the ballot cause many Puebloans to stay hopme that day?

    If he wants to win in 2010, then the best way to do that would be to start visiting with the community leaders quoted in the article. Make the voters there realize that he’s looking out for them–not just on education, but on the other issues that matter to them. If he doesn’t reach out to them right away, there’s a real danger of those voters staying home–or worse, being lured by the as-yet-unknown Republican candidate.

  2. “Who is this guy? I haven’t a clue,” said Gilbert Ortiz, Sr., a businessman and a member of the Pueblo Area Labor Council. “I’ve been active in state politics for 30 years and I’ve never heard of him. I would have thought the governor would have picked someone Democrats were used to working with.”

    Gil and Diane are Pueblo Union Labor Council Administrators. This sounds like the canned messaging from 815 16th St NW in D.C. when the preferred Union Boss candidate is not elevated.

    1. when IIRC a DPO reporter asked her to point out Serbia (what was then Yugoslavia) on a map during the war in the Balkans, when she was attorney general of Colorado.  She did so accurately and then went on to give the reporter a detailed explanation of the conflict in the region.  Oops.

          1. In all fairness to her, Gale Norton didn’t write Amendment 2’s crappy and constitutionally-limiting language. She only decided to go all out in defending it, all the way to the Supreme Court.

  3. Does Gov. Ritter not realize that there is more to the State of Colorado then just the city of Denver? The Democratic party has done a great job of spreading out the base in recent years and gaining independents nationwide.  Ritter went away from this and might find himself out of a job a little sooner than planned.

    1. Since doing an experiment that barely touches merit pay for 1 year is enough to determine if the idea works. Here’s the thing, actual merit pay is used throughout private industry for a very simple reason – it is very very effective.

      1. Merit pay is a good change to schools, I think.  People who perform exceptionally well at the jobs they’re assigned – and that doesn’t mean strictly “percentage of students passing the CSAPs” – deserve recognition, and merit pay is one of the few ways an employer can recognize their employee for that work.

        I still hold out on keeping tenure, though (and I know a lot of people equate that with the merit pay idea…).  Tenure exists to free teachers from political constraints; so long as the teacher is being effective, I think we have to give them the assurance that tenure provides.  Perhaps some modifications to the tenure system are in order, but the basic principle should remain.

  4. You can’t compare schools to private industry.  The goal in private industry is to make a profit.  The goals of schools are different for each class and each student each year.  You can’t compare apples to oranges. Merit pay is a buzz word that gets people with no knowledge of the subject to jump on board.  Sure teachers must be held accountable but Bennets merit pay system was a joke.

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