by Donald E. L. Johnson | 9:34 am, July 16, 2010 | 8 Comments
A few days ago I asked who the Colorado Republicans should run for governor if Scott McInnis wins the GOP primary and then steps down. That scenario is making more sense every day, and it's becoming more likely.
University of Colorado President Bruce Benson looks like the man who can make Colorado solvent and help it thrive.
And, at this point Bruce Benson has the best chance of beating Governor-elect John Hickenlooper who's looking forward to an easy victory as a result of the political problems of Scott McInnis and Dan Maes. The Denver Post has declared both McInnis and Maes unfit to be governor, and so have I and other bloggers. Many, if not all, people posting on FaceBook agree.
Benson's successes as the president of the University of Colorado, former chairman of the board of Metro State, the founder and builder of an oil and gas exploration business and as a two-time chairman of the Colorado Republican Party make him this year's go-to man for Colorado and the GOP.
Colorado needs a smart, successful and honest governor who has proven that he can work across party lines both behind the scenes and with the state legislature. The state needs a governor who has started, grown and run a very successful business and knows the ins and outs of the energy and other industries. We need a senior statesman who has made fixing our troubled higher education institutions a personal mission. And we need a governor who knows how to run a large organization like the state government and work with a closely divided legislature as well with leaders in the private and nonprofit sectors.
Although Benson is a strong conservative and Republican, during his service as the president of CU and chairman of the board of Metro State, he has shown that he can put partisanship aside. He has shown that he is a creative problem solver, and he has more economic development skills than anyone else in the state.
If elected, Benson, who is 72, would immediately be treated as a lame duck. People would assume that he would be a one-term, transitional governor. Normally, being a lame duck office holder is a miserable experience for ambitious politicians. But Colorado politicians know we're in a deep hole, and they may be more willing to work across party lines with a Bruce Benson than they would with the ambitious Obama Democrat John Hickenlooper.
Back in 2009, The Rocky Mountain news wrote a glowing review of Benson's first year as president of CU. The impact graphs from the article, CU chief Benson makes believers of detractors:
"I think all of us that are university presidents think we're pretty good at working with legislators," [Stephen] Jordan, [president of Metropolitan State University] said. "But Bruce has a long, long history of working with political leaders and has access to people better than most of us do."
That skill and others have earned Benson high marks as the first anniversary of his tenure approaches. He's demonstrated that dedication and political savvy can be more valuable than an advanced degree, particularly when education funding is in jeopardy.
Even critics who publicly opposed the appointment of a millionaire oil man and big-time Republican to head the CU system are impressed.
"He proved me wrong," said Stephen Ludwig, a Democrat and CU regent who voted against Benson last year.
Will Benson and his politically astute wife, Marcy, be willing to take the ball one more time for Colorado?
I hope so.
About President Benson: University of Colorado.
CU president Benson on short list of possible McInnis replacements. By Brittany Anas.
CU president discusses his plans for the future. By Nelson Garcia.
Who should Colorado Republicans run for governor? The Business Word, 7.14.2010.
Terrance Carrol calls on Scott McInnis to drop out of gubernatorial contest; Dan Maes must go, to. I outline scenarios for replacing McInnis and call for Maes to drop out. The Business Word, 7.13.2010.
Praise for PPC From Our Lefty "Fan"
- "Zany-ass bombast-entertainment...Hackneyed weirdo communist pseudo-nostalgia"
--Alan Franklin, ProgressNow