DENVER (AP) – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday presented Donna Lynne, a top Kaiser Health executive and longtime supporter of the governor, to be what he called his “chief operating officer” as the next lieutenant governor.
Hickenlooper told reporters at the snow-bound state capitol that he wanted someone with significant executive prowess and government experience for the post.
Lynne, who served 20 years in New York City government in various posts before joining Kaiser in Colorado, said she served under four mayors there – three Democrat, one Republican.
“I figured out politics pretty early,” she said.
Lynne’s nomination will be sent to the Legislature soon for approval. If confirmed, she would replace Joe Garcia, who is stepping down to be president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
Unlike other places where the lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, Colorado’s has no role by law except to replace a governor who dies in office
But Lynne’s nomination quelled speculation, for the moment, that the Democratic governor wanted someone in place should he be asked to serve in Washington by a future administration.
When asked if she’d seek to succeed Hickenlooper, who has two years to go in his second term, Lynne had a short answer: “No.”
Still, Hickenlooper said, “I think Donna Lynne has the background to be governor from day one.”
Senate president Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, welcomed the nomination.
“At a time when health care is such a significant focus of public concern for government, business and individuals, hopefully she’ll be just what the doctor ordered,” Cadman said in a statement.
Lynne is executive vice president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, overseeing hospital operations for Kaiser’s Colorado, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii regions. She previously was executive vice president and chief operating officer at Group Health Inc., a $2.5 billion managed care organization.
Lynne also has worked closely with Hickenlooper over the years, including his 2010 gubernatorial transition team and an issues advisory board in his first term dubbed TBD Colorado. She’s also a former chair of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
She listed some of her initial priorities as education, health care and personnel management. “I want state workers to feel how much love we should give to them,” she said.
If confirmed by both legislative chambers, Lynne will replace Garcia, who took the job in 2011.
Mayor Michael Hancock Statement On Lt. Governor Nomination
“Donna is an outstanding choice to serve as Colorado’s next Lt. Governor and I commend Gov. Hickenlooper on making such a bold pick. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Donna on many critical issues, including as co-chair of the Denver Education Compact, and greatly value her thoughtfulness, contribution and insight. Donna has spent her career as a steadfast champion for children, families and healthy communities, and I know she will keep doing so on behalf of all Coloradans in this new role.
“I also want to thank Joe Garcia for his dedicated service to Colorado over the past five years. Joe is a dynamic leader and a very good friend, and I wish him the best in his next adventure.”
LINK: Donna Lynne Bio
– By JAMES ANDERSON, AP Writer
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