Legendary newscaster Tom Brokaw shared the stage tonight in Washington D.C. with two lawmakers, Colorado’s Diana DeGette and Michigan’s Fred Upton, where they received Courage Awards for their efforts involving cancer.
DeGette, a Denver Democrat, and Upton, a Republican and chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee, have been universally praised for putting aside political pettiness to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which boosts federal funding for medical research, and speeds up federal approval for many new drugs and medical devices. The Senate is now debating the measure.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams turned the annoyance of being trapped in a slow-moving security line outside the Russell Building into something fun this morning when he realized the students standing in front of him were from Lakewood High School.
Williams was headed to see Colorado’s U.S. senators, Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican. It turns out that Lakewood High School teacher Katie Seelbach and her AP U.S. history and government classes were also there to see the pair.
And because the school is in Jefferson County, the students also had an appointment to visit Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada. (Williams stopped by all seven congressional offices Tuesday night but most of the lawmakers were on the House floor getting ready for a vote; the ones he did see were sprinting off to join them.)
The students talked with Bennet about a variety of topics, from immigration to education to college tuition. They were excited to be in D.C. and to be talking with members of their delegation.
When Bennet asked if the students knew what a secretary of state does, there were some interesting answers, from foreign policy to overseeing interstate compacts. The secretary of state actually oversees elections, business registrations, charitable giving and more.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne William often tells the story of how there was no high school graduating class of 1959 in the Virginia town where he got his political start. That’s because elected officials closed it rather than integrate it.
Williams on Wednesday night returns to the Shenandoah Valley as the keynote speaker for the Warren County Lincoln Day Dinner. He is fitting in the speaking engagement while attending the National Association of Secretaries of State.
He learned the town’s history when he moved to Front Royal, where he was elected student body vice president the spring after he arrived and student body president a year later. The Warren County High School yearbook features a picture of Williams, who graduated in 1981, wearing a Reagan/Bush button.
Williams last month brought up Warren County, Va., when he spoke to the Lincoln Club of Denver.
He said the county was dominated by Democrats and hadn’t made a lot of progress, although it had since allowed minorities to attend public schools. He volunteered for Republicans running for county supervisor.
“I helped organize about 70 kids and we stood outside of every polling place on Election Day and passed out literature. Most of us couldn’t vote — we weren’t old enough,” Williams recalled. “But we changed that county.”
Williams success in GOP politics continued. He was elected chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party six years after moving to Colorado Springs. In his first race for county commissioner, conventional wisdom said he would get trounced in the primary. Williams served two terms on the commission, and then one term as El Paso County clerk and recorder before Coloradans elected him secretary of state in 2014.
“I use that as secretary of state, talking about how important it is to be involved and how you can make a difference, because we were a bunch of kids and we helped to change county government without even having the ability to vote,” he said.
The parade route went right by Williams’ office at 1700 Broadway — he captured a good picture of the orange- and blue-stripe painted on the street for his Facebook page — but he was headed to Washington for the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference.
After he landed, Williams stopped by all seven congressional offices. In most cases, the representatives had had already headed to the floor for a nighttime vote, but the secretary did manage to catch up with two lawmakers, Republican Ken Buck of Windsor and Republican Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs.
Williams also had a chance to meet Buck’s new chief of staff, Mac Zimmerman, on his first day on the job. Zimmerman grew up in Denver but has lived in Grand Junction and previously worked for Congressmen Scott McInnis and Tom Tancredo, and for state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry.
“I’ll never forget Elway with the guys carrying him on their shoulders and all the confetti. He was crying. That was about the point it hit me.”
One of my favorite stories about the Denver Broncos’ first Super Bowl win in 1998 was written a decade later, looking back at the wild run that ended with a victory over the Green Bay Packers.
In 2007, wide receiver Rod Smith compared the 1997 season to recess.
“You go to school in the morning and they ring the bell for recess and then they didn’t ring the second bell for you to go in,” he said at the time. “I swear, the whole year was like recess.”
The Broncos play in their eighth Super Bowl Sunday, taking on the Carolina Panthers. Here’s hoping that in 2025, there’s a story written about this magical season and how the Broncos won their third Super Bowl.
And let’s not forget how a Super Bowl bet this year between Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall benefited the hungry.
Here’s the 10-year anniversary story, which appeared on Sept. 5, 2007: