Buescher eyes job as secretary of state

State Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, has applied with the governor’s office as a prospective replacement for Secretary of State Mike Coffman, the outgoing lawmaker said Monday.

“I think I can say that I have been pushed by a surprising number of county clerks to do this,” Buescher said. “That support made me consider it more deeply over the weekend.”

Buescher, who many considered a frontrunner to succeed outgoing Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, saw his re-election bid fall short by fewer than 600 votes earlier this month.

“The job needs someone to do it right now,” Buescher said. “I want to spend some time talking with the governor and some other folks about what needs to be done in the office and what the potential for the office is.”

Buescher is one of a handful of Colorado leaders who have either applied for the position or expressed interest since Coffman succeeded in his bid to replace outgoing Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.

Among the other contenders are Romanoff, state Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver, and a series of county clerks from around the state.

The secretary of state oversees a variety of tasks, including monitoring statewide elections, registering businesses, administering campaign finance laws and collecting lobbying disclosures.

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Janice Rich said Buescher’s approach to legislating shows why he would be well-suited to replacing Coffman.

“In my experience as a county clerk, Bernie Buescher was always very open to the county clerks and every side of the issue,” Rich said. “He always had an open-door policy to listen to all sides. That would be refreshing in a secretary of state.”

Buescher’s appointment to head the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office would be his second Cabinet-level position. He served as director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance under Gov. Roy Romer.

A panel Gov. Bill Ritter established to help him select the next secretary of state is expected to make a recommendation to the governor next month.

Former Mesa County District Attorney Frank Daniels is the Western Slope’s sole representative on the governor’s panel.

Gunnison Democrat Mike Callihan was the Western Slope’s last statewide office holder, serving as lieutenant governor under Gov. Roy Romer from 1987 to 1992.

Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who held the office from 2003 through 2007, was born in Grand Junction but lived on the Front Range when she held the office under Gov. Bill Owens.


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