Colorado’s legislative leadership picks could include some surprises

And you thought the election was over? Colorado lawmakers are meeting today to pick new leaders charged with keeping the Capitol running smoothly—and with Democrat Bernie Buescher unexpectedly out of the picture, a couple of surprises are in store for the donkeys. Over on the Republican side, a reported coup may be in the works.

On Tuesday, Buescher, the Democratic lawmaker from Grand Junction who was widely expected to be Colorado’s new speaker of the House, lost his bid for re-election to Republican Laura Bradford. That, of course, set in motion a three-way tug between Denver lawmakers Anne McGihon (who has been vying for the spot for months), Terrance Carroll and Western Sloper Kathleen Curry.

As for the Senate majority leader position, it’s likely that Sen. Peter Groff will easily retain his spot. Sources say to keep an eye on Sen. John Morse of Colorado Springs, who is likely to become the president pro tem, and Brandon Shaffer, who is likely to become the Senate majority leader. Sen. Abel Tapia of Pueblo, the current pro tem, is likely to head back over to the Joint Budget Committee.

On the Republican side, birdies are tweeting that Sen. Josh Penry of Grand Junction will assume the mantle of minority leader, replacing term-limited Andy McElhany of Colorado Springs. Sen. Nancy Spence will likely keep her post as assistant minority leader and Sen. Mike Kopp will remain caucus chairman.

Meanwhile, a possible coup-like scenario is floating among the House Republicans. The venerable Mike May of Parker will likely remain the minority leader, but word is that Reps. Cory Gardner, Bob Gardner and Ellen Roberts will be running as a slate, in effect challenging the current, more conservative line-up of current Assistant Minority Leader David Balmer, Caucus Chairman Frank McNulty and Whip Amy Stephens. (Though the Rocky Mountain News is currently reporting that Gardner has changed his mind).

But, like sausage, the assembly process is messy, so no promises. We’ll update you after the final tallies come in.

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Cara Degette

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