Colorado lawmaker set to join Obama Administration |

Colorado lawmaker set to join Obama Administration

Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado “-Senate President Peter Groff is poised to resign his legislative seat and take a job with President Barack Obama’s administration, according to multiple sources.

Groff, ever the charming and disarming, would only answer questions with questions, and then talk about music or sports.

“Tiger Woods just teed off,” he said today when asked, again, if he were going to resign.

“I’m not answering any questions,” he finally said.

But two sources have told The Denver Post that Groff will join the Department of Education in a position that involves faith-based and community initiatives.

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Groff is considered the leading Democrat voice in the legislature on school reform.

Rumors of Groff’s departure have grown so intense in the Capitol that Senate Democrats are campaigning to succeed him as president; Denver Democrats are lobbying to be appointed to his seat; and Senate Republicans are worried about losing their ally on educational issues.

“Washington’s gain is our loss,” said Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray.

The initial talk of “Is Groff leaving?” now has changed to “Is he staying through the end of the session?” Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn no later than May 6.

“I hope that President Obama gives him a job with a lot of power in the Department of Education,” said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction.

Groff, who has served in the legislature since 2001, made history in 2007 when he became the first black elected Senate president. He made history again this year when he and Speaker Terrance Carroll became the first blacks to ever lead both chambers of a legislature at the same time.

First appointed to his Senate seat in 2003, he was elected in 2004 and re-elected last year. His term expires in 2012.

A Democratic vacancy committee will appoint a successor to his east Denver seat.

The Senate Democratic caucus, with a 21-14 majority over Republicans, would elect a new Senate president. Contenders include President Pro Tem Betty Boyd of Lakewood, Majority Leader Brandon Shaffer of Longmont, John Morse of Colorado Springs and Abel Tapia of Pueblo.

Boyd said Groff has not told her he is leaving but speculation is so intense she asked colleagues to support her for president if the job becomes open.

“When you hear these rumors flying around and they’re only getting louder, you start to think, ‘Well, maybe there is something to it,'” she said.

Tapia also said he knows nothing firm, but he has talked to people.

“I think we have the opportunity to have the first Hispanic Senate president,” he said.

Groff, who turns 46 this month, moved to Denver as an infant. His father, Regis Groff, was a teacher and a lawmaker who fought for years to pass legislation making slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a state holiday.

Peter Groff and his wife, Regina, the pastor at Campbell Chapel AME Church in Denver, have two children, Malachi, and Moriah.

Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327 or

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