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Garcia: The Latest Coloradan Called Up

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Lt. Gov.-Elect Joe Garcia on Nov. 2, 2010. (Photo by Matt McClain/Getty Images)

Lt. Gov.-Elect Joe Garcia on Nov. 2, 2010. (Photo by Matt McClain/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Throughout history, Coloradans have made an impact on national issues. We have long been seen as an influential state in the West and our tradition only continues to grow.

One of the more recent examples of the political influence of Colorado is the continuing trend of presidential cabinet members tapped from the Centennial State.

Lt. Governor Joe Garcia is reportedly set to join the ranks of Gale Norton and Ken Salazar by becoming a Presidential cabinet member as President Obama’s next Secretary of Labor.

Garcia has quickly moved up the political ladder after being tapped by Gov. John Hickenlooper to be his Lieutenant Governor in 2010 after serving as President of Colorado State University at Pueblo.

Garcia would be the only Latino on President Obama’s second term cabinet so far. While many point to the growing Latino voter pool as an influencing factor to Garcia’s potential nomination, it’s hard to see how a community would see this appointment as a nod to their support. One would think actual policies would be a greater reward for voting support, but who I am to judge.

Back to Garcia. If officially nominated and confirmed, Joe Garcia would quickly become a much more influential Democrat in Colorado and a potential top tier candidate for higher office. With Democrats holding many of the higher profile seats in Colorado already, it will be important for the party to strengthen their bench.

Garcia’s nomination will certainly bolster an already strong resume. I wouldn’t be stunned to hear his name in discussions for the governor’s office in 2018. I know that 2018 feels like a long way off, but unless Hickenlooper breaks from his stated desire to run for a second term, the governor’s office will be occupied for a while.

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia (credit: CBS)

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia (credit: CBS)

The other potential bench improvement for Democrats will come out of who John Hickenlooper taps to become his next lieutenant governor. The position does not play a major role in actual politics, but with Hickenlooper’s popularity, anyone who becomes his wing man or wing woman will see an instant boost in credibility and visibility. It will be interesting to see the jockeying for the shot to ride the Governor’s coattails.

Joe Garcia’s impending departure should trigger more than a few political dominoes in Colorado politics, not the least of which belong to him. And just like the last time President Obama tapped one of our elected leaders in Colorado for his cabinet, the effects should be felt by both his new cabinet member and by the entire state.

Just ask Sen. Michael Bennet about how something like this can affect someone’s career.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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