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Analysis: State Bill Handicaps Current Democratic Pro-Tem Race

Editor’s Note: A few hours after this was originally published, Carroll selected McFadyen for the post.

DENVER — Setting aside the issue of whether the speaker pro tem’s job is a plum assignment or just a nicer office at the state Capitol, State Bill Colorado today handicaps the decision facing lame duck Speaker Terrance Carroll, aka “The Decider.”
Kathleen Curry, the previous pro tem, gave up the job when she affiliated from the Democrats last week to run as an independent write-in candidate in her House District 61 on the West Slope. It was a blow to the Dems, but one that may last only till the next election.
For Carroll, the pro tem designation falls into one of three categories: a possible “anointing” of the next speaker (or at least a future speaker candidate), a “safe” pick that rewards a Dem trooper who can’t, or won’t, run for the speaker’s job, or an “out-of-the-box” selection that shows the Democratic Party tent still is big enough to include a right-leaning legislator such as the dearly departed Curry.


HD-26’s ANDY KERR: He’s already in leadership, but Kerr’s political star (not to mention his continued political fortunes in this western-suburb district) would brighten just a little bit more as speaker pro tem. His district in the Green Mountain area of Lakewood is competitive, but has trended Dem.

HD-13’s CLAIRE LEVY: The wonkish Levy has distinguished herself as chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Politically, she’s in a safe Boulder district and therefore may not need the window dressing.

HD-56’s CHRISTINE SCANLAN: Summit County’s Scanlan proved she’s a team player when she decided against moving up to the Senate to run again in the House, which the Dems need to defend from GOP takeover. See our previous analysis here. Scanlan’s competitive district is perennial pickoff territory.

HD-42’s KAREN MIDDLETON: This former (appointed, then elected) state board of education member is an authoritative voice on ed issues. Her Aurora district is a fortress for the Dems, with 48 percent of voters registered D.

HD-50’s JIM RIESBERG: The mild-mannered Riesberg, chair of the House Health Committee, probably won’t push for the job, but he would benefit from it. His Greeley district is nominally competitive with 38 percent of voters registered as Democrats.


HD-47’s BUFFIE MCFADYEN: The term-limited McFadyen is a bright-personality House stalwart who is the face of her Pueblo West district. Dem registrants still outnumber GOP registrants in HD-47, but the GOP has gained some during the Bush/Obama decade (an example of redistricting outside of redistricting).

HD-18’s MIKE MERRIFIELD: The term-limited Merrifield has held onto a seat in El Paso County for four terms, which in itself deserves some sort of lasting political honor (stained glass window?)

HD-11’s JACK POMMER: The term-limited Pommer regularly swims in the budget muck that is the Joint Budget Committee; picking him genuflects to the party’s liberal wing.


HD-38’s JOE RICE: Rice is up for his third term in Littleton’s right-leaning HD-38, where the Army Reserve colonel keeps bottling political magic (got any for sale?). He’ll probably never be speaker because the full body views him skeptically. But his DNA virtually replicates Bill Ritter’s (and maybe Curry’s).

Have a differing opinion? Feel free to comment.

Knox edits State Bill Colorado. He can be reached at

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