Even though he narrowly lost his re-election bid in November, outgoing State Representative Bernie Buescher will be returning to Denver in January. Friday, he was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to become the next Colorado Secretary of State.
"Bernie has just a great background for this job, for being Secretary of State," said Ritter.
After current Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman was elected to Congress in November, Governor Ritter began the search for his replacement. Friday, it was Grand Junction lawmaker Bernie Buescher who was the last man standing.
"I'm really honored," said Buescher. "I appreciate the confidence the governor is showing in me and I'm anxious to get to work."
Ritter introduced Buescher as his pick for the position during a news conference Friday morning. He says Buescher's vast experience in the public and private sectors, his ability to work across the aisle, and the statewide perspective he brings being from the Western Slope made him the ideal candidate for the job.
"I've worked with Bernie for a long time now and really appreciate how much he puts his shoulder to the wheel in getting things done," said Ritter.
And the governor is not the only one singing Buescher's praises. State and national leaders from both parties are applauding the governor's appointment.
"Throughout his career, Bernie Buescher has dedicated himself to serving the people of Colorado as a bipartisan consensus builder," said current U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Interior nominee Ken Salazar, (D) Colorado. "I have every confidence that Bernie's business and public policy experience, his strong work ethic, and his ability to bring people together to address common challenges will make him an effective and successful Secretary of State."
"Bernie has been a colleague and friend at the legislature and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity as Secretary of State," said State House Republican Leader Mike May, (R) Parker. "I congratulate him on his selection and wish him the best as he tackles the challenges of this important position."
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Janice Rich, a Republican, says that's a good sign that Buescher, a Democrat, was the right choice to be the chief elections official in the state.
"You're here to represent all the voters, not just one side," said Rich. "I think he can do that."
As County Clerk, Rich works very closely with the Secretary of State's Office. She says after dealing with the voting machine debacle this past year, and with an Election Reform Commission set to make reports and recommendations soon, she's very happy Buescher got the job.
"I think now we're going to have a real partner in the election process that's been lacking for the past few years," said Rich.
Buescher says he wants to be that partner and plans to spend a lot of time meeting with county clerks across the state.
"The main thing is to make sure the elections for the State of Colorado are run in a way that create and maintain the confidence of every citizen," said Buescher.
The State Senate must confirm Buescher before he can officially take office. He says he hopes the process is quick so he can get right to work come January.
"I'm very, very excited," said Buescher.
Current Deputy Secretary of State Bill Hobbs will serve as interim secretary until Buescher is confirmed.