Gov. Bill Ritter was criticized by Republicans recently for not reappointing Bruce Benson to the Metropolitan State College Board of Trustees. As the Rocky Mountain News
Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter declined to reappoint GOP powerhouse Bruce Benson to Metropolitan State College of Denver's Board of Trustees, setting the stage for a divisive Senate Education Committee meeting today.
Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, said Republicans might vote against Ritter's Democratic nominee, Antonio Esquibel, an emeritus professor of Spanish at Metro, at today's hearing as a form of protest.
"Ask anyone at Metro State and they will tell you that Bruce Benson is one of the best friends that college has," Penry said Wednesday.
Benson, who has served as chairman of Metro's Board of Trustees since it was created in 2002, said he was disappointed.
The Senate confirms gubernatorial appointees, and traditionally lawmakers support a governor's choice. But reappointing Benson would have put Ritter in a tough spot. Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald said some of her Democratic colleagues told the governor they couldn't support him.
Asked about the decision, Evan Dreyer, the governor's spokesman, said: "The governor felt it was time for a change on that board and that we needed to move in a new direction."
"Bruce obviously has a strong commitment to public education and we hope to keep him engaged in the process of improving Colorado's education system," Dreyer said.
Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, confirmed that she had spoken to Ritter about the nomination, but declined to say what was discussed. She was one of the Democratic candidates attacked last year by a Republican political committee Benson helped found and fund.
Penry's protest of this whole affair is more than a bit silly. Benson is one of the major figures in Republican politics, and he devoted hundreds of thousands of his own dollars to defeating Democrats last fall - including his strong support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. You can forgive Democrats, then, if they aren't all that inclined to appoint Benson to the board of anything.
It's one thing to act in a bipartisan manner, which Ritter has done before in reaching across the aisle, but he shouldn't be under any sort of obligation - moral or otherwise - to do something nice for a guy who did everything he could to make sure that he wasn't elected governor. Would Spider Man help the Hobgoblin get a job at the newspaper where Peter Parker works? Would George W. Bush have made Saddam Hussein the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq? Of course not, and there's nothing wrong with not wanting to reward your worst enemies.