Ritter’s Smooth Ride Into So. Colo.

It’s a stump stop that has, in the past many years, hosted many a Republican, and a handful of Democrats, talking about things like milking cows and uniting the party and looking for votes.

But the gazebo in the park next to the Pioneers Museum in downtown Colorado Springs was filled with political animals of all stripes on Monday as Gov. Bill Ritter handily finished off his Southern Colorado road trip across the state. In Colorado Springs, he signed four military-related bills into law, and in Pueblo, it was all about health care.In Colorado Springs, some Republicans griped when Ritter cracked a joke that a loud truck, its engine revving nearby, must be driven by a Republican attempting to drown out his speech.

But many of the 150 or so community and political leaders, activists and onlookers offered praise to the idea that Ritter, and Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, have emphasized all year – the need to work cooperatively for the greater good.

“It’s a small step for mankind, to concentrate on the community and not on the party,” said Jerry Heimlicher, a Colorado Springs city councilman. “I get so sick of the emphasis on, ‘is this good for the Republicans?’ or ‘Is this good for the Democrats?'”

Ritter was joined by Fort Carson Commander Maj. Gen. Robert W. Mixon, the new likely commissioner of  education, Dwight Jones, Iraqi war veteran Danelle Watts and several area state senators and representatives, who gave speeches shortly before the governor signed four military-ralated bills into law.

Also onhand were the four Republican freshmen legislators from surrounding El Paso County, a bedrock of conservative politics. They included Reps. Amy Stephens, Bob Gardner, Stella Hicks and Marsha Looper. Most of the other GOP legislators from the area skipped the event. Similarly, the mayors of the surrounding towns of Monument, Palmer Lake, Calhan, Fountain and Manitou Springs were there, but Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera was nowhere to be seen.

The military-related bills that Ritter signed into law included: