DENVER — Chris Hansen wants a bigger challenge.
At the end of the month, he’ll leave his job as chief of staff to Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, arguably one of the safest congressional incumbents in the entire country, and take the reins of perhaps the most important U.S. Senate race in the country, a key GOP pick-up opportunity in West Virginia.
Hansen, 30, will run GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s 2014 campaign for the Senate seat now held by the retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat.
“We all wish Chris the best of luck in his future endeavors and are sad to see him go,” Gardner said. “He has provided great leadership for our office over the past three years and leaves big shoes to fill.”
Last year, Hansen took a leave of absence from his job with Gardner, who didn’t break a sweat in his own reelection bid, to run Rep. Mike Coffman’s reelection effort after the Republican saw his once-safe GOP seat re-drawn into a toss-up seat.
Coffman, still viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress, faces a 2014 challenge from former Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who will likely be a tougher foe that former state Rep. Joe Miklosi, who rode Obama’s long Colorado coattails to within two points of Coffman last November.
Hansen’s deputy, Natalie Farr, will take over as Gardner’s chief of staff; and Joe Williamson will take over Farr’s other job as legislative director.
“Natalie and Joe have been with my office since the beginning and both have a superior knowledge of the district and the district’s legislative issues,” Gardner said. “I look forward to working with them as we build on our strong record of service and legislative accomplishments.”