Sen. Randy Baumgardner takes majority whip position | CraigDailyPress.com

Sen. Randy Baumgardner takes majority whip position

Janelle O'Dea

One of Colorado's Western Slope senators was elected as the majority whip for Colorado's 2014 legislative session Tuesday.

Randy Baumgardner represents Colorado's 8th District, which encompasses Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties.

Western Slope House Rep. Bob Rankin said he's happy to have Baumgardner, a senator from a rural Colorado district, in a leadership position.

"I think it’s always good for us to have some of our Western Slope legislators in leadership, and he as the whip will be able to advocate for our interests in the areas of coal and electrical, which are important to Craig," Rankin said. "I think that’s important, maybe more important than the average constituent realizes."

Baumgardner takes over as majority whip when the Colorado 2014 legislative session begins. Sen. Gail Schwartz was the previous majority whip.

With the switch in leadership comes a switch in parties. Baumgardner is a GOP member while Schwartz is a Democrat.

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Baumgardner said his primary responsibility as majority whip will be to assure all members of the caucus are in the chamber and all votes are counted.

He also said bipartisan solutions are among his goals while in this position of leadership.

"You have to work with both the majority and the minority and keep the lines of communication open," Baumgardner said. "I am a Western Slope senator realizing that it’s not a Senate District 8 position. It’s called a state senator, and we have to make sure the entire state is represented and that the best possible legislation has moved forward for the people of the state of Colorado."

An issue that Baumgardner cares about is also one that the Western Slope cares about.

"Coal is very important to my district," Baumgardner said. "We want to make sure our air quality is preserved, but we also have to make sure that these people have jobs to feed their family and put food on the table."

Contact Janelle O’Dea at 970-875-1795 or jodea@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @jayohday

Other leadership positions elected by the GOP Senate:

Senator Bill Cadman, President of the Senate

Senator Ellen Roberts, President Pro Tempore

Senator Mark Scheffel, Majority Leader

Senator Kevin Lundberg, Assistant Majority Leader

Senator Viki Marble, Caucus Chair

Senator Kent Lambert and Senator Kevin Grantham, Joint Budget Committee