U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet seems to understand the old Broadway adage that says "don't monkey with a hit." He did the smart thing on taking office and simply took over his predecessor's office - staff and all. And nowhere was that a better idea than in Durango.
Bennet was appointed by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to serve out the term of now-former Sen. Ken Salazar, who left the Senate to become secretary of the Interior. Bennet has said he plans to run for a full six-year term in 2010.
With his new job, Bennet got what had been Salazar's Washington office. He also took over his regional offices in Durango, Pueblo, Alamosa, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Fort Morgan, Fort Collins and Denver. Maintaining those is crucial, both to his chances for 2010 and to his ability to serve Colorado in the Senate.
Bennet has a history of remarkable successes in business, in government as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's chief of staff and most recently as the head of Denver's school system. But he never has run for public office, and he is largely unknown to Coloradans outside the Denver area. To be effective as a legislator and as a candidate next year, he has to learn the state in depth and become known, as well.
What had been Salazar's staff will be essential to that. For example, Ann Brown, Bennet's regional director in the Durango office, has worked for three U.S. senators and before that served on the Durango City Council. She understands this area intimately. She knows its people and what matters to them. No one could better introduce our new senator to Southwest Colorado - and our issues and concerns to him. If she typifies the staff Bennet is inheriting in his other state offices, he will be well served.