State Rep. Julie McCluskie was selected by her Democratic peers on Friday to serve as the next speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives when the Legislature reconvenes next year, bringing a vote from Western Slope to one of the top jobs in the Capitol.
The top three managerial posts in the Chamber are held by women.
McCluskie, who lives in Dillon, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 and most recently served as Chair of the powerful Joint Budget Committee. She was re-elected to her third term on Tuesday. Her professional background includes positions in communications and human resources.
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“The diversity of this body can and should be our strength,” McCluskie told her caucus, asking for her support. “We are a group of city dwellers and mountain people, educators, veterans, nurses, attorneys, economists, aldermen and entrepreneurs. We are a body rich in race, ethnicity, LGBTQ status, age and gender. We are not all the same random Democrats.”
McCluskie will take over from short-term Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and oversee a caucus of 46 Democrats. Next year, there will be 19 Republicans in the House of Representatives, up from 24 in the last two years following the GOP’s major election defeats.
60 percent of the state representatives will be women next year.
McCluskie beat out Lakewood Representatives Chris Kennedy, the architect of this year’s House Democrats’ election strategy, and Commerce City’s Adrienne Benavidez for the top House job.
McCluskie’s selection will have to be approved by the whole House as a formality when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
The last speaker of the Western Slope House of Representatives was Russell L. George, a Rifle Republican who held the office for the 1999 and 2000 legislature.
The Democratic faction of the House of Representatives elected Rep. Monica Duran of Wheat Ridge as Majority Leader and Rep. Jennifer Bacon of Denver as Deputy Majority Leader.
The Republican factions in the House and Senate and the Democratic faction in the Senate elected their respective leaders on Thursday.
The 2023 legislative period begins on January 9th.