Bernie Buescher for secretary of state

We recognize there is a touch of parochialism in endorsing state Rep. Bernie Buescher of Grand Junction to be named Colorado’s next secretary of state. But, with every top state elected position currently occupied by Front Range types, we believe having a bit of geographical diversity would be a good thing.
And both of the other finalists for the job are Denverites.

The job will become available in January because current Secretary of State Mike Coffman has been elected to Congress. Gov. Bill Ritter must appoint someone to replace Coffman. He formed a panel to consider all of the applicants and recommend three finalists to him. All three are Democrats.

Buescher, who was narrowly defeated in his legislative re-election bid this year by Republican Laura Bradford, has ample qualifications for a job such as secretary of state. He headed the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance under Gov. Roy Romer. He also was interim manager of the Colorado State Fair in 1996 and 1997, and developed a new business plan for the state fair that was unanimously passed by the Legislature. And he worked with county clerks to rewrite Colorado election law in 2006.

That’s not to say the other two finalists for the secretary of state’s post are inexperienced.

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon ran for the job in 2006, but lost to Coffman. He certainly has a background related to elections, but much of it we don’t support.

Gordon was a driving force in the Legislature this year trying to force all counties in the state to hold paper-ballot elections. County clerks such as Mesa County’s Janice Rich vehemently opposed that idea.

Fortunately, the Legislature killed the bill, allowing Mesa and other counties to use electronic voting machines.

The third candidate, current House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, is a pragmatic politician who has worked hard with people across the political spectrum to pass legislation and change state policy.

But Romanoff has stated that, if named secretary of state, he would look at ways to impose more uniformity on county clerks throughout the state regarding the way they conduct elections. That should give people like Janice Rich heartburn.

County clerks are elected by their constitutents to, among other things, run elections. The Secretary of State has some oversight over how they do that, but not absolute authority over them.

Buescher, in contrast, said he would work with county clerks to improve elections but would not try to impose a one-size-fits-all template throughout the state.

That’s wisdom from a man who realizes what works best in Denver is not necessarily appropriate for the entire state — one more reason Gov. Ritter should consider geographic diversity when choosing the next secretary of state.


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