Bruce Benson, one of Colorado’s best

Bruce Benson smiles as he talks to reporters after he was voted to be president of the University of Colorado by the CU Board of Regents Feb. 20, 2008. (Rocky Mountain News/Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson’s announcement last week that he was retiring in a year brought much deserved accolades about his contributions to education, but the reality is Benson’s investment in Colorado straddles a variety of issues. We are all the better for it.

I covered the legislature in 2005 when deep, deep cuts still hadn’t solved the budget crisis. There were very real behind-the-scene discussions about what was next. Community colleges and state parks were on the list, even though closing them would trigger economic disasters in those regions.

Bruce, an oilman and business executive, and two other high-profile Republicans, Gov. Bill Owens and then CU President Hank Brown, put their reputations on the line to push for the passages of Referendums C and D. The right dissed the tax measures but the trio held firm.

“This isn’t about politics; this is about good fiscally conservative policies,” Benson told the Pueblo Chieftain.

Read moreBruce Benson, one of Colorado’s best

Ghosts of Colorado caucuses past, from nuns to a naked boy

The year was 2008 and interest in Colorado’s quirky and confusing precinct caucus system reached a zenith thanks to the presidential race, especially on the Democratic side.

Precinct co-chair Jamie Laurie counts votes for Hillary Clinton at one of 15 causes at East High School on Feb. 5, 2008. Barack Obama's supporters outnumbered Clinton supporters 1,033 to 394 in the 15 precincts. (Rocky Mountain News/
Fifteen Democratic caucuses were held at East High School on Feb. 5, 2008. Barack Obama’s supporters outnumbered Hillary Clinton supporters 1,033 to 394 in the 15 precincts. (Rocky Mountain News/Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

As a  political reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, I asked a variety of politicos — from then-City Auditor Dennis Gallagher to U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard to former First Lady Wilma Webb — about their precinct caucus experiences.

With Colorado Republicans and Democrats holding their precinct caucuses tonight, here’s that 2008 story:

Ah, there’s nothing like memories of caucuses past

By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News

The famed astronaut. The naked boy. The chocolate frosting. And don’t forget the nuns and the no-shows.

Read moreGhosts of Colorado caucuses past, from nuns to a naked boy

Politico Katy Atkinson loses her battle with cancer

Political consultant Katy Atkinson.
Political consultant Katy Atkinson.

Political consultant Katy Atkinson, who started out working for Republicans and eventually handled high-profile nonpartisan ballot measures, died today.

Atkinson was a sought-after spokesperson by reporters because she knew Colorado politics and she quickly returned phone calls.

“Katy Atkinson was smart and witty and just a delight to be around,” said Dick Wadhams, the former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and a veteran political consultant. “That’s what made her just a great person to work with in politics. In the most intense situation, she could laugh.”

Atkinson was a Colorado native who attended Wheat Ridge High School and Colorado College, where she graduated in 1978 — the same year she got her start in politics.

“She accomplished quite a bit but her son Randy was her greatest achievement,” said lobbyist Mike Beasley, who visited Atkinson Wednesday in hospice.

Atkinson was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was 59.

Read morePolitico Katy Atkinson loses her battle with cancer