Buescher challenged for House gavel

Throughout state Rep. Bernie Buescher’s re-election bid this year, he has told the community and the press he is the probable successor to outgoing Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver.

“I think I’ve got the votes,” Buescher told The Daily Sentinel’s editorial board last week.

That might not be the case, one of the Grand Junction Democrat’s Front Range colleagues said Monday.
Rep. Anne McGihon, D-Denver, said she plans to run for the House’s top position after her re-election this year.

“I think I’m better positioned to lead the caucus as we go through the next couple of years,” McGihon said. “And I’m doing very well. I don’t think Bernie has it sewn up.”

Given the Democratic leanings of her district versus the more moderate leanings of Buescher’s, her constituents’ needs would not interfere with her ability to lead the Democratic caucus, said McGihon, a third-term lawmaker,

“I think that Bernie often takes the positions that he should take, (reflecting) the priorities of his Western Slope constituency, but that is not always the caucus position,” McGihon said. “On economic development, on water rights, on severance taxes, he may not have the same view as much of the rest of the caucus.”

Buescher said for the time being he is focusing on representing the people of Mesa County at the Capitol and being re-elected.

Nonetheless, Buescher said he knows more than 20 members of the Democratic caucus would support him to succeed Romanoff next year.

Buescher also has received the backing of other high-ranking Democratic leaders, including U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, who has introduced Buescher as “the next speaker of the House” on several occasions.

“It’s an awkward issue to deal with,” Buescher said.

Romanoff said for Democrats to be focused on leadership elections is inappropriate when they should be working on their own re-election campaigns.

“I don’t think it’s productive for me to indulge or for anyone else on our team to guess about who succeeds me and why and how,” Romanoff said. “Candidates’ efforts ought to be focused on this election and not the next one.”


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