Colorado’s new Democratic leaders are more diverse than ever, most are women

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
At least two Colorado state flags fly over the State Capitol on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.

Democrats selected Rep. Julie McCluskie of Dillon to be the next Speaker of the Colorado House on Friday evening. She will lead the largest Democratic caucus in state history after Democrats expanded their majorities in the statehouse.

The new Democratic leaders are more diverse than ever before, most are women.

The party made gains up and down the ticket on Election Day, and Democrats will hold 46 of the seats in the 65-member chamber.

“We have made bold progress to lower health care costs, make housing more affordable, protect our freedoms and invest in our schools, but Coloradans are still struggling in the aftermath of a deadly pandemic, global inflation and the worst wildfires in our state’s history,” said McCluskie in a written statement. 

“Even with these challenges, I know that our brightest days are still to come.” 

McCluskie was elected to the statehouse four years ago and previously served on the legislature’s powerful joint budget committee, which is charged with crafting the state budget. 

She is still the Speaker-elect until the legislature convenes in January and the full body takes a vote. 

Democrats selected Rep. Monica Duran for House majority leader, a role which also wields significant power. The majority leader primarily manages the calendar and decides when bills come up on the floor for debate. 

Duran said she was proud of the diverse Democratic caucus and the number of women that make up the majority in the statehouse. She pledged to work on behalf of her colleagues to help them succeed. 

“Making sure to elevate your voice as a member, elevating the principles and policies that unite us as Democrats, elevating each other. I want this caucus to feel like a family, a team, not a group that agrees on every single thing, but a team that has room for collaboration where everyone feels valued,” said Duran. 

Democrats have been in the majority for a number of years, but are heading into the upcoming session with a stronger mandate, having gained seats in a year they expected to lose some races. As one Democratic member said, “little did we know we would grow our majority by this much.”

For other leadership positions, Democrats selected Jennifer Bacon as assistant majority leader, Reps. Iman Jodeh and Andrew Boesenecker will serve as co-whips and Reps. Mandy Lindsay and Brianna Titone will serve as caucus chairs.