Colorado welcomes a new lieutenant governor

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Gov. John Hickenlooper flank new Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne after she was sworn into office May 12 at the state Capitol. (Bernard Grant/Special to the SOS)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Gov. John Hickenlooper flank new Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne after she was sworn into office May 12 at the state Capitol. (Bernard Grant/Special to the SOS)

Donna Lynne officially became Colorado’s 49th lieutenant governor after she took the oath of office at the state Capitol in front of friends, family and a whole lot of political folks.

Lynne told Gov. John Hickenlooper during the ceremony on Thursday it was a good thing he didn’t choose her as his running mate when he first ran for governor in 2010 because her maiden name was Schleinkofer.  The idea of a Hickenlooper-Schleinkofer ticket got a laugh during the light-hearted ceremony.

Hickenlooper picked Joe Garcia, the president of Colorado State University-Pueblo,  to run with him on the Democratic ticket, and the pair was re-elected in 2014. Garcia announced last fall he was returning to education, and Hickenlooper in March announced Lynne would  succeed Garcia.

State Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, and former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler at the swearing in for Colorado's latest lieutenant governor, Donna Lynne. (SOS photo)
State Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, and former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler at the swearing in for Colorado’s latest lieutenant governor, Donna Lynne. (SOS photo)

In selecting Lynne, Hickenlooper got one of the top women business leaders in Denver and top women nationally in health care, according to The Denver Post. Lynne served as executive vice president of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. She once worked for New York Mayor Rudy Guilianni.

Hickenlooper is term limited after 2018, and Lynne had said she is not interested in running.

Garcia was present at the ceremony. Also witnessing history were former Gov. Bill Ritter,  who chose Barbara O’Brien as his running mate, and former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler, who served with Gov. Roy Romer. She ran independently of Romer.

Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the swearing in for Colorado's newest lieutenant governor. (SOS photo)
Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the swearing in for Colorado’s newest lieutenant governor. (SOS photo)

Colorado has five statewide constitutional officers: the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer.

Candidates for the No. 2 spot in state government used to run independently of the gubernatorial candidate, which didn’t always create a smooth relationship between the two offices. Former Democratic Gov. Dick Lamm and his first running mate, George Brown, and Romer and Lt. Gov. Mike Callihan, had their public differences.

But the issue came to a head after Republican Gov. Bill Owens took office in 1999 and tangled with his lieutenant governor, Joe Rogers, over finances. The legislature changed the process and in 2002 Owens selected his running mate, state health director Jane Norton, and the pair coasted to victory.