Kurt Morrison hits the road

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Kurt Morrison, who is leaving the Hickenlooper administration, ran into each other this week at The Avenue Grill. (SOS photo)

I’ve been teased about some tweets before, like when I wished Colorado happy birthday but had the age wrong, but nothing beats Gov. John Hickenlooper’s holiday party when I took a picture of Secretary of State Wayne Williams and the gov’s legislative director, Kurt Morrison.

I called them trans buddies, which generated plenty of frantic texts to me. I was simply referring to transportation, I replied. The secretary and the director have worked on road stuff together.

Morrison’s announcement that he is leaving the administration this month revived memories of that incident. I wondered whether I had a picture of him and a co-worker brought up the trans buddies tweet.

But talk about fate. The secretary and I ran into Morrison this week.

Two outgoing members of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration, Lauren Lambert and Kurt Morrison. (SOS photo)

Morrison and other members of Team Hick had gathered at The Avenue Grill to pay tribute to another departing Hick staffer, Lauren Lambert, the director of the legislative office.

I took several pictures of Morrison, one of which Sen. Chris Holbert, a Parker Republican, used on Facebook when he paid tribute to the legislative director.

“Now, it should come as no surprise that I didn’t vote for John Hickenlooper,” said Holbert, the Senate majority leader. “But, one of his key strengths is his ability to hire great people — and Kurt is one of those people.

“Thank you, sir, for your trust, honesty, and communication. You made me a better legislator, a better leader, and Colorado is better for it,” Holbert said.

Among those who responded to Holbert’s post was Tony Gagliardi, the director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Colorado.

“Kurt has always worked to achieve what is best for the state of Colorado. He is an individual who has worked with both sides with respect and integrity,” Gagliardi wrote.

Morrison’s last day is Friday. He is joining Centura Health as vice president for government and public affairs.

Legislative liaisons and other members of “Team Hick” gathered Wednesday at The Avenue Grill. Kurt Morrison is on the right side, second closest to the end of the table. (SOS photo)

“Kurt Morrison has been a great contributor to Colorado and a great partner for our office,” Secretary Williams said.

“Working together, we were able to pass through the legislature and have signed by Gov. Hickenlooper more than two dozen bipartisan measures improving our state’s elections and business and nonprofit filings. “I know he’ll do great things in his new position.”

I met Morrison in 2008 when I covered the legislature for the Rocky Mountain News and he was staffing the House Committee on Transportation and Energy. From there he went to work as the state and federal liaison/legislative counsel for the Colorado Department of Transportation and I often saw him at the Capitol.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, at Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State address on the House floor in 2016. Williams stood and applauded when the governor said the state needs new money for transportation. (Photo by Evan Semón/Special to Secretary of State)

In both those jobs, he had an occasion to know Williams, who was an El Paso County commissioner from 1993 to 2001 and worked plenty on transportation.

Williams chaired the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.

In 2004 he helped put a measure on the El Paso County ballot seeking voter approval for 1-cent sales tax increase for transportation.

He served on the Colorado State Transportation Advisory Committee.

In Hickenlooper’s 2016 State of the State speech, the Democrat said, “Let’s find a way to permanently put new money toward roads so we can truly solve Colorado’s transportation problems.”

At that, the Republican secretary of state got to his feet and clapped in front of rows of fellow Republican lawmakers. Morrison sent the secretary a text message, thanking him.

That sounds like a trans buddy to me.