As noted earlier today, Colorado Treasurer Mike Coffman is making some major changes in his life. Having decided against running for Governor in 2006, he has now decided to leave Colorado temporarily and serve as a Marine in Iraq, working in civil affairs.

“This was an extremely difficult decision for me. I had to choose between whether to continue serving Colorado as the state treasurer, or serving the nation by returning to the Marine Corps and returning to Iraq,” said Coffman, who recently dropped out of the 2006 governor’s race after fellow Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez expressed interest.

“This nation needs me to do a job and that job is in Iraq and I have to weigh the two together. And I think the people of Colorado are going to be understanding about what I’m going to be doing … That they will understand the fact is there is a critical shortage of people with my expertise in the Marine Corps, that is based on my experience in state government,” Coffman said.

Ordinarily, Governor Owens would choose a replacement for Coffman who would serve as Acting Treasurer. But since Coffman expects to return to Colorado and his Treasurer’s duties in about nine months, the replacement process is not certain.

Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, said Coffman’s decision to temporarily step down raises questions about the process to appoint a successor, and whether the governor could appoint an acting treasurer.