Ritter, Kennedy and surprise Republican activist applaud Groff nod

In a prepared statement on Friday, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter on Friday called the appointment of Senate President Peter Groff to a U.S. Department of Education post a “tremendous gain” for the federal government but a “big loss” for the state.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Friday afternoon Groff was the Obama administration pick to head the department’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center. Ritter and Groff are both Democrats.

Here’s the statement sent out by Ritter’s office:

“It’s been a privilege to have served with Sen. Groff. When history looks back on the whole story of leadership in the Capitol, we should not limit ourselves to focusing only on his history-making climb to become president of the Senate. Instead, we should remember his tremendous leadership ability. During his time in the Colorado General Assembly, Sen. Groff earned a strong reputation for being thoughtful in his leadership, skillful on the issues, and congenial with legislators from both parties. In addition, he fought hard to protect civil rights, promote educational reform and improve the quality of life for all Coloradans.

“Sen. Groff is a man of faith and I believe President Obama and Secretary Duncan made a great choice. While I consider him a great partner in the legislature, I know this is a wonderful opportunity for him and his family, and I wish them the best.

“While this new opportunity is a tremendous gain for Washington, DC, it is a big loss for Colorado.”

State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, also a Democrat, issued this statement praising Groff’s appointment to the post:

“I have known Sen. Groff for years, and I am so pleased that his thoughtful work on such important issues has been recognized by President Obama and his team. Peter has consistently worked to see that educational opportunity is available to all, and he will continue to do so in this new role. He is an inspiring presence and will be missed around the Capitol.”

Conservative powerhouse Alex Cranberg also cheered the news Groff has a job at the U.S. Department of Education, Lynn Bartels notes in a Denver Post story:

Groff has long been a champion of education reform, sometimes to the chagrin of teachers’ unions.

“Give ’em hell, Peter,” said Alex Cranberg, a Republican well known in Colorado’s school-choice movement.

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