Duran, Grantham leaders

ColoradoPolitics.com l By Joey Bunch

Democrats elected the state’s first Latina House speaker Thursday, choosing Rep. Crisanta Duran of Denver, as the parties selected their chamber leaders for the next two sessions.

House Republicans chose Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, one of the Capitol’s strongest conservatives, to lead their caucus. The move was a surprise, as Rep. Polly Lawrence from the Douglas County side of Littleton, was thought to be a frontrunner. She instead was not nominated at her request.

Senate Democrats re-elected Sen. Lucia Guzman of Denver as their minority leader, and Senate Republicans elected Sen. Kevin Grantham of Canon City as the chamber’s president.

The GOP retained its one-seat majority, 18-17, in the Senate on Election Day, while House Democrats expanded their majority by three seats to 37-28.

“For me it is important that this speakership recognizes the diversity in our state, but also that we lead for everyone, that we don’t leave anyone behind,” said Duran, who served as the Democratic House leader last year under Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, who was term-limited. “We don’t leave our workers behind, we don’t leave undocumented students behind, we don’t leave our ranchers and farmers.

“We need to work together together to make our state as wonderful as it can possibly be, and I look forward to working with people across the state to do just that.”

Duran won the top job without challenge.

Rep. K.C. Becker of Boulder was elected House majority leader over Mike Foote of Lafayette and Faith Winter of Westminster.

The House Democrats elected Alec Garnett of Denver as assistant majority leader, Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood as whip, Jovan Melton of Aurora as deputy whip, Daneya Esgar of Pueblo as caucus chair and Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins as assistant caucus leader.

Besides Neville, House Republicans elected Cole Wist of Centennial to be assistant majority leader and Lori Saine as whip.

Senate Democrats chose Leroy Garcia of Pueblo as assistant minority leader, Mike Merrifield of Manitou Springs as whip and freshman Sen. Lois Court as caucus chair.

The Democratic caucus in the upper chamber chose Matt Jones of Boulder for a new leadership position to work on environmental issues, though in the minority they’ll need help from Republicans to pass anything.

After Grantham, Senate Republicans chose Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling president pro tem, Chris Holbert of Parker to be majority leader, Ray Scott of Grand Junction as assistant majority leader,  Vicki Marble of Fort Collins as caucus leader and John Cooke of Greeley as whip.

Caucus leadership for each party is important, because it decides which bills parties propose and oppose, and the majority in each chamber picks which committees bills are assigned to—friendly where they can make it to the floor for a vote, or unfriendly where they are killed.

The legislative session begins Jan. 11.

Read the original article here.

Gardner takes top role

The Denver Post l By Mark K. Matthews

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is poised to become the next chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The post will put the freshman lawmaker in a prominent national role as he leads Republican efforts to retain control of the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Politico first reported Gardner’s likely ascension Wednesday afternoon and Colorado Republicans confirmed that Gardner was well-positioned to become NRSC chairman during a vote next week for the spot.

In an interview, Gardner sounded optimistic.

“Obviously, I’ve expressed my willingness to continue to fight for a majority that believes in limited government and economic opportunity for the people of this nation and that’s what I’m going to do in any capacity I can,” he said. “Right now, that is a real possibility.

“I feel confident that with the support of my colleagues we will be in a position to be able to help,” Gardner added.

The Yuma Republican campaigned quietly this year to win his colleagues’ support, traveling the nation to support GOP candidates seeking election in 2016.

In 2014, Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet led the Democratic campaign efforts.

Read the original story here.

Trump’s Campaign Grows

Donald Trump’s Colorado ground game picked up key players — some well-known in Republican circles — to oversee respective issue and advocacy groups this week.

While the list does not include former governors or current office-holders, whom presidential campaigns often turn to, they do include such Colorado leaders as former state Senate President John Andrews and former Sen. Greg Brophy, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate who previously served as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Ken Buck.

Brophy, a fourth-generation Eastern Plains farmer, will lead Trump’s Agricultural Coalition. Andrews, who recently retired as director the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, will lead the campaign’s Colorado Faith Coalition.

“These leaders are contributing valuable time and energy in order to advance Mr. Trump’s conservative message to a range of important groups and organizations throughout the state,” Patrick Davis, Trump’s Colorado director, said in a statement. “With their help, Coloradans will reject the third Obama term that Hillary Clinton represents and will vote for change in November.”

The rest of the new Trump team members are:

  • Hispanics for Trump: Former U.S,. Senate candidates Jerry Natividad and Floyd Trujillo.
  • African-Americans for Trump: Derrick Wilburn, Colorado GOP vice chairman and founder and chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives and American Conservatives of Color.
  • Women for Trump: Former state Rep. B.J. Nikkel and Lilly Nunez, a former Colorado committeewoman to the Republican National Convention.
  • Millennials for Trump: Political blogger Rachel Blaha Keane and Colorado State University Student student Joel Crank.
  • Economic Coalition: Paul Prentice, an economics and business professor at Colorado Technical University; author George Mentz and Tim Wigley, president of the Western Energy Alliance.
  • Energy Coalition: Prentice and James J. Volker, chairman CEO of Whiting Petroleum Corp. 
  • Military Coalition: Retired Air Force Gen. Bentley Rayburn.
  • Education/School Choice Coalition: Former University of Colorado Regent Jim Geddesand former Jefferson County school board member Ken Witt.
  • Sportsmen Coalition: Denny Behrens, regional director of BigGame Forever,
  • Recruiters for Trump’s coalitions will be political analyst and former El Paso County treasurer Bob Balink and former state Senate candidate Barb Neville, wife of Sen. Tim Neville and mother of state Rep. Patrick Neville.

“Neville, who has assisted in multiple political races, will also oversee the Trump ground-troop movement throughout Colorado,” the Trump campaign said in a news release.

Read the original article on the Denver Post’s website here.