Hickenlooper chooses Garcia for running mate

Joe Garcia

The Democratic candidate for Colorado governor tapped the president of Colorado State University-Pueblo as his running mate Thursday.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper chose Joe Garcia as his lieutenant governor running mate, saying his experience in higher education will be helpful in the governor’s office.

“Joe has a track record of the kind of nonpartisan, collaborative leadership Colorado needs to come together and solve our major challenges,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Joe has had success solving problems by bringing the public and private sectors together in a meaningful way.”

Garcia was named CSU-Pueblo president in 2006 after spending five years running Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs. Prior to that, he was a frequent lecturer at those schools along with Colorado College, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and CU-Denver.

Garcia is credited for helping revitalize the Pueblo campus, boosting enrollment and bringing back its own NCAA Division II football team, the ThunderWolves, a program that had been canceled in 1984.

An attorney by training, Garcia has worked in private law firms, once served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies and held a position with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a regional representative.

Garcia grew up in a military family that finally settled in New Mexico. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He and his wife, Claire, have four children.

Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, immediately praised Hickenlooper’s pick, saying if the two are elected, Garcia would be the first Latino lieutenant governor in the state’s history.

“Joseph Garcia is a community leader with a diverse background in both the public and private sector and as a leader in higher education in this state,” she said.

Her counterpart with the Colorado Republican Party, however, was less welcoming.

“Joe Garcia should immediately resign as president of CSU-Pueblo,” GOP party chairman Dick Wadhams said. “As a state employee, Colorado taxpayers expect Mr. Garcia to be a full-time university president, not to run around the state campaigning for office. Otherwise, taxpayers are subsidizing the Hickenlooper-Garcia campaign.”

Wadhams, however, has not asked that Hickenlooper resign while running. Nor has he done the same for Republican candidates for various offices, such as Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who’s running for U.S. Senate, or Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who’s seeking re-election.

He said there’s a difference between expecting an elected official to resign while running for office as opposed to a state employee.

“Voters have the ability to replace an elected official,” Wadhams said “There is little recourse for taxpayers to replace a state employee.”


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