December 19 2008, 11:11 AM
Governor Bill Ritter has named state Representative Bernie Buescher to replace Secretary of State Mike Coffman, the Republican who was elected to outgoing Tom Tancredo's Sixth Congressional District seat. Ritter made the announcement during a press conference this morning, providing Buescher, a Grand Junction Democrat, a political lifeline, following his defeat in the November election. The Rocky Mountain News predicted Buescher would get the nod on its website just moments prior to the announcement, noting that it was perhaps Buescher's "close ties to Ritter" that helped seal the deal. Both men backed Amendment 58, which sought to close tax loopholes for oil-and-gas developers and which voters defeated. Buescher's appointment isn't final. The state Senate must now confirm him, according to a press release from the governor's office that was not posted online as of Panorama's deadline. Assuming he has the job, Buescher will inherit an office that was highly scrutinized during the most recent election, as I noted for 5280.com. Perhaps Buescher's first battle will be addressing uncertainty among state and county election officials with regard to their use of controversial electronic voting and tallying machines--an issue linked to a law that gave Coffman "more flexibility to approve e-voting equipment for use in this year's elections," as the Rocky recently reported. Ritter's choice was narrowed by a committee that also named outgoing state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and former State Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, both Dems, according to various outlets, including The Denver Post. Buescher was the favored Third Congressional District replacement, according to the insider poltical-gossip site ColoradoPols.com, for U.S. Representative John Salazar, whose name floated briefly as a potential appointment to the Obama administration. Buescher became ColoradoPols' odds-on favorite for the SOS seat after Romanoff was also named among the top tier of candidates to replace U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, tapped this week by President-elect Barack Obama to head up the Interior Department.