Buescher makes shortlist to be secretary of state

A bipartisan panel recommended Tuesday that Gov. Bill Ritter select state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, or one of two other outgoing state lawmakers to succeed Secretary of State Mike Coffman.

Buescher, who lost his re-election bid by 605 votes, said he was pleased to see his name on the list alongside Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, and Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver.

The seven-member panel, which included former Mesa County District Attorney Frank Daniels, recommended the three candidates after sorting through the 20 applicants.

Buescher, who headed the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance under Gov. Roy Romer, said he plans to emphasize his management experience in the public sector and private sector. Buescher was the head of West Star Aviation in Grand Junction from 1987 to 1996.

He said regional diversity also will figure into his pitch during his final job interview.

“Obviously I think it’s good if the governor’s Cabinet — and this position is technically a member of the Cabinet — has more Western Slope diversity,” Buescher said.

Former Speaker of the House Russ George, R-Rifle, who heads the Colorado Department of Transportation, is the only Western Slope member of the governor’s Cabinet.

Reeves Brown, executive director of Club 20, a Western Slope advocacy group, called Buescher “an established leader” and an excellent candidate to replace Coffman.

Brown said Romanoff, like Buescher, has done “a fine job” building coalitions at the Capitol.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, lauded Buescher’s management experience, calling him the “right choice on a lot of levels.”

The candidate Ritter selects will replace Coffman, who will replace outgoing Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., next year.

The secretary of state is the state’s chief elections officer. He also oversees a plethora of other departments, including the registration of businesses in the state and oversight of lobbyists.

The governor’s office has invited the public to comment on the candidates at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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