Previous Political Roles of Colorado Governors

Since Colorado’s current Governor, Bill Ritter, has decided he will not run for re-election in 2010, there has been much speculation about who will run on the Democratic ticket. The press has speculated on such possible candidates as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Lieutenant Governor Barbara O’Brien, U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter, former Speaker of the (State) House Andrew Romanoff, and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (although Salazar announced today he will not run). As each of these persons has a very different role in government, it made me wonder what prior political positions have been held by past governors.

Colorado’s governors dating back to Statehood in 1876 had served in roles from everything from judges to school boards to City Attorney, although, interestingly, no Colordo Attorney General has ever become governor.

Only one Governor ever served as Mayor of Denver – John L. Routt, who was governor first, serving as Territorial Governor 1875-76, the State’s first Governor 1876-79, Mayor of Denver 1883-85, and Governor again 1891-93. (Popular guy!) Two other Colorado governors served as Mayors, of Pueblo and Montrose, before becoming governor.

One Colorado Governor, John Shafroth, served in the U.S. House of Representatives before becoming Colorado’s chief executive, while exactly half, 18 out of 36, Governors served in the Colorado State Legislature, two as Speaker of the House and seven as President of the Senate.

Finally, seven Colorado state governors previously served as Lieutenant Governors.

This information was obtained from the following sources: The Colorado State Archives’ lists of Colorado Governors and Colorado Attorneys General; the City and County of Denver’s online list of Mayors; the Colorado Legislative Council’s database of legislator biographies; and a book, available from our library, entitled Presidents and Speakers of the Colorado General Assembly.