DENVER Democrat John Hickenlooper picked the president of Colorado State University-Pueblo as his running mate in the governors race Thursday.
Joe Garcia has led CSUs Pueblo campus since 2006.
Hickenlooper, speaking in front of his campaign headquarters, said he was attracted to Garcias personal story and reputation for solving problems in a nonideological way.
Joe doesnt just love Colorado. He lives Colorado, Hickenlooper said, pointing to Garcias hobbies of mountain biking, snowboarding and restoring and riding motorcycles. This guy lives large, and I know hes going to bring that kind of leadership as lieutenant governor.
CSU-Pueblo has grown quickly since Garcia took over, from 4,200 students in 2005 to 5,051 in fall 2009. In June, Garcia announced a free tuition program for more than a third of his universitys neediest students.
Hickenlooper and Garcia will face the winner of the Republican primary, either Dan Maes or Scott McInnis, as well as American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo and other third-party candidates.
Maes said Thursday that he will name a running mate within five days of next Tuesdays primary, if he wins.
Although the Maes campaign isnt entirely acquainted with Mr. Garcia or his background as a lawyer and government regulator, we look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail when the general election begins Aug. 11, Maes spokesman, Nate Strauch, said.
McInnis spokesman, Sean Duffy, took aim at Hickenlooper.
Mr. Garcia has his work cut out for him because he will be spending the next three months defending the Denver mayors record of higher taxes and job losses as well as the mayors flexible positions on a number of key issues, including the Democrats job-killing tax increases. We wish him lots of luck, Duffy said.
Garcia was born in New Mexico and grew up in an Army family, moving often. He worked his way through the University of Colorado and went to Harvard Law School. After practicing corporate law in Denver, he ran the state Department of Regulatory Affairs for Gov. Roy Romer in 1993. From 1999 to 2001, he led the Rocky Mountain region for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In 2001, he became president of Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, where he served until taking over at CSU-Pueblo in 2006.
If elected, the lieutenant governors pay of $68,500 would be a substantial pay cut for Garcia. He said his pay as CSU-Pueblo president, including an allowance for a car and housing, exceeds $200,000.
The lieutenant governor takes over when the governor is out of state or incapacitated. Current Lt. Gov. Barbara OBrien sometimes signs bills when Gov. Bill Ritter is out of state.
Otherwise, the lieutenant governor has few official duties. One of them is to lead the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, a group that promotes better relations between the state government and the two Ute Indian tribes.
Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams called on Garcia to resign immediately, saying he was campaigning while taking taxpayer dollars. Garcia said he would discuss his exit from CSU-Pueblo with the colleges board of governors next week.
Garcia is married to Claire Garcia, a Colorado College professor. They have four children.