Five Colorado governors offer up some advice

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with former Gov. Roy Romer, his wife Bea and their son Tom.

What a treat to visit with all five of Colorado’s living governors, who participated Thursday morning in a policy discussion on partisan politics.

They talked about their individual legacies and also offered advice to President Trump, according to The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul.

The governors: Dick Lamm, who was first elected in 1974, Roy Romer, Bill Owens, Bill Ritter and the current occupant, John Hickenlooper, who is term limited after next year.

As a reporter, I covered Owens, Ritter and Hickenlooper. I never covered Lamm or Romer but I interviewed them countless times over the years.

And while at the Rocky Mountain News, I was assigned to write Lamm’s and Romer’s obituaries and have them ready to go, you know, just in case. Yes, awkward, but Lamm was very gracious when I explained why I was interviewing him. My lede: “Dick Lamm did his duty today.”

Lamm and Romer outlived the Rocky, which died in 2009.

Colorado’s five living governors — Dick Lamm, Roy Romer, Bill Owens, Bill Ritter and John Hickenlooper — during a panel discussion Thursday morning. Denver Post Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo is at the microphone. (SOS photo)

During the panel, Owens, the only Republican among the five and an expert on Russia, said Trump needs to focus on policy instead of investigations into his campaign’s and administration’s ties to the Kremlin.

“My advice is, let the process work,” Owens said, the Post reported. “Just let whatever happened be discovered. … Let that process occur and focus instead on health care, taxes and all the other things.”

Owens works for the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which hosted the event in the auditorium of The Denver Post, where I worked after the Rocky closed.

I began at the Rocky in 1993 as the night cops reporter. That’s when I met Ritter, the new Denver district attorney. On the beat, I once got in trouble for overlooking a police report about a Bea Romer getting her purse lifted. I didn’t know she was the wife of Gov. Romer!

Former Govs. Dick Lamm and Bill Owens. (SOS photo)
Former Gov. Bill Ritter and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

The first legislative session I covered was in 2000. I had so much fun that I cried when it ended that May. (In later years, the tears began when the session started. ) Owens was governor, having won in a squeaker in 1998. I interviewed his mother June when he was re-elected in a landslide in 2002.

“It’s not as exciting as the first time … ,” June Owens said.

That line so tickled her son he used it during his second inaugural speech.

Romer and Lamm served three terms each, but term limits kicked in by the time Owens was elected and he was out after eight years.

Ritter became governor in 2007, buoyed by a national anti-Republican mood.

But he was cursed by an economy that worsened each year and put off by the partisan nature of the job and opted not to run for a second term.

Enter Hickenlooper, Denver’s mayor who became governor in 2011 after one of the weirdest elections in Colorado history. Remember bike sharing, Tom Tancredo and Dan Maes? I had covered Hickenlooper’s first mayoral run, in 2003, and in his gubernatorial campaign he once again played up his quirkiness.

Next year is Hickenlooper’s last. Colorado will elect a new governor, who years later will asked to provide his — or her — insight on the current political scene.

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