Colorado House Democrats on Friday elected Rep. Julie McCluskie of Dillon to be the House Speaker for the upcoming legislative session.
“It is a tremendous privilege to serve the great state of Colorado, and I am honored to lead one of the largest and most diverse Democratic majorities in our state’s history,” McCluskie said in a statement. “The diversity of this body is our strength. As public officials, we are called to meet the expectations and needs of the people in our districts and to govern responsibly on behalf of all people in our state—those who voted for us and those who didn’t.”
She will oversee a caucus of 46 Democrats in the 65-seat chamber of the House of Representatives.
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Friday’s meeting was a follow-up to Thursday’s meeting. During that first meeting, representatives voted for a speaker, but the triple race for the lead between McCluskie, Lakewood’s Chris Kennedy and Commerce City’s Adrienne Benavidez was too close to call it out. The results were not announced because three house district races had not yet been called after Tuesday’s election – members’ votes in those races could potentially have been invalidated and the result of the speaker’s vote could have changed.
But on Friday, former spokesman Alec Garnett said the caucus staff felt comfortable enough that the three races would be called in favor of the Democratic candidates, so voting continued. There was no majority from Thursday’s results for the speaker, so there was a runoff between Benavidez and McCluskie.
McCluskie has served at the State House since 2019.
House Democrats also elected Rep. Monica Duran of Wheat Ridge as Majority Leader, Rep. Jennifer Bacon of Denver as Deputy Majority Leader, Rep. Andrew Boesenecker of Fort Collins as Majority LeaderO-Whip, Rep. Iman Jodeh of Aurora as majority cO-whip, Assemblyman Mandy Lindsay of Aurora as majority faction cO-Chairman and Rep. Brianna Titone of Arvada as majority faction cO-Chair.
The results of the leadership election mean that the Colorado House will have a woman as Speaker, Majority Leader and Vice Chair for the first time in state history, according to a Caucus press release. Titone will be the first senior transgender state lawmaker in the country, the release said.
With 39 women in the state house and 12 women in the state senate — for a total of 51 women in the 100-seat legislature — it will be the first time in the history of the legislature that women will be in the majority, according to the longtime Capitol reporter Marianne Gutland of Colorado politics.
Democrats elected leadership in the state Senate on Thursday.
Senator Steve Fenberg of Boulder will return as Senate President and Senator James Coleman of Denver will serve as President pro tempore. Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City was elected Majority Leader, Sen. Robert Rodriguez of Denver was elected Deputy Majority Leader, Sen. Julie Gonzales of Denver was elected Majority Whip, and Senator Janet Buckner of Aurora was Majority Group Chair. For the joint budget committee, Sen. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada will serve as chair and Sen. Jeff Bridges will be a member.
House and Senate Republicans also elected their leadership on Thursday.
The legislative period will take place on January 9, 2023.