Carroll elected Colorado speaker of House |

Carroll elected Colorado speaker of House

Lynn Bartels and Ed Sealover
Rocky Mountain News
Denver, CO Colorado
Ken Papaleo/Rocky Mountain NewsTerrance Carrol is congratulated, after being elected the next Speaker of the House, by Nancy Todd, Thursday morning, November 6, 2008, in the State Capitol in Denver. House and Senate elected new leadership on today.

DENVER, Colorado ” Democrats today elected Rep. Terrance Carroll of Denver as their speaker after a wild race for the top post in Colorado’s House of Representatives.

In addition, Senate Democrats re-elected Peter Groff of Denver as their Senate president.

That means for the first time that two black men hold the most powerful positions in Colorado’s legislature, where the Ku Klux Klan once controlled the House, Senate and governor’s seat.

“This is unprecedented,” said former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, the city’s first black mayor. “We have two African Americans leading the legislature in a state with such a small black population.

“Dr. King would be proud because people are voting for the individual and his color has nothing to do with,” Webb added.

Democrat and Republican lawmakers and lawmakers-elect gathered at the state Capitol today to pick new leaders after Tuesday’s election.

Although Democrats retained their majority in the Senate and the House, the mood was at times somber, in part because Rep. Bernie Buescher, who had been expected to take over from Andrew Romanoff as speaker, lost his re-election bid.

The paved the way for a three-way race for speaker, with Carroll defeating Reps. Anne McGihon of Denver and Kathleen Curry of Gunnison for the speaker’s post.

Buescher, of Grand Junction, was defeated by businesswoman Laura Bradford, who received a standing ovation when she was introduced at the House GOP caucus.

The mood among Republicans stood in stark contrast to two years ago when Democrats beat five incumbents and won every open seat.

Rep. Mike May, R-Parker, who was re-elected House minority leader, pointed out that Colorado Republicans were spared the bloodshed that GOP legislative candidates faced nationwide.

“It wasn’t like we got to date the prom queen, but it’s better than kissing our sister,” he said.

In addition to beating Buescher, House Republicans picked up an open seat that had been held by a Democrat.

In the Senate, Republicans either stayed the same or lost a seat, depending on what happens with a recount in an Arapahoe County race.

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter addressed the four caucuses, congratulating the newcomers and urging bipartisanship when the session opens in January.

“We absolutely have to work together,” he told the House Republicans. “I don’t think we’ll agree about everything.”

“Hunch?” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, getting a big laugh.

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