DENVER — After winning a one-seat majority last week, Colorado’s Republican senate caucus Tuesday elevated Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman to serve as Senate President next year.
Essentially, he’s their quarterback.
Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, who was declared Senate President-elect by acclamation after no other lawmakers were nominated for the post, capped off a celebratory caucus meeting by handing out Peyton Manning no. 18 jerseys to his colleagues who helped put the Senate back in Republican control for the first time in a decade.
“Eighteen is what it takes to make a majority,” Cadman said, noting the significance of the jerseys. “We are all the 18th member of this team.”
The group, made up of experienced lawmakers and bright-eyed rookies, spanning Colorado’s West Slope to its eastern plains, lauded Cadman, a Capitol veteran who has led the Senate GOP caucus for the past couple of years.
“I’ve seen you dream, strategize and work tirelessly for this day,” said Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, who nominated Cadman for the post. “You are a true citizen-leader. You truly desire a better Colorado. You are a great man with a great heart.”
“I’m obviously honored and I’m amazed,” said Cadman, who said he was relieved that a two-year effort to oust the Senate Democratic majority has come to fruition.
After gaining two seats last fall in historic recall elections sparked by the passage of Democratic gun control bills, which trimmed the Democrats 20-15 edge to a narrower 18-17 majority, Republicans gained one additional seat in last week’s elections in order to win control of the Capitol’s upper chamber.
Although Democrats won back the two seats lost in 2013’s recall elections, Republicans ousted three Democratic incumbents, two in Jefferson County and one in Adams County.
Cadman, who’s served at the Capitol for more than a decade, offered his caucus’ five incoming lawmakers a bit of advice.
“Read the rules, read the rules, read the rules. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. Then read the rules again,” he said. “Our time here is short, the demands are substantial and there is no end to the learning curve.”
Cadman also encouraged his colleagues to develop strong relationships with Democratic lawmakers to serve the best interests of the state.
Returning the favor, Cadman nominated Scheffel to serve as senate majority leader.
Senate Republicans also voted Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, the most moderate member of the caucus, to serve as president pro-tem.
Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, one of the most conservative senate Republicans, was selected to serve as assistant majority leader.
Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, will serve as majority whip.
Sen. Vickie Marble, R-Fort Collins, was named Senate GOP caucus chair.
Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, was appointed to continue serving on the six-member Joint Budget Committee; because Republicans now hold a majority, the caucus could nominate a second senator to join him, tapping Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City.
All votes were done by acclamation after only one lawmaker was nominated for each post, evidence that the caucus made its leadership decisions well ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s meeting at the Capitol.
Before the meeting adjourned, Cadman’s staff presented him with a gavel engraved with his name and new title.
He gave it a sharp bang on the desk.
“Feels good,” he said.