Leroy Garcia, president of the Colorado Senate, resigns to take Pentagon job

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Leroy Garcia, president of the Colorado Senate, resigns to take Pentagon job
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Leroy Garcia, president of the Colorado state Senate since 2019, says he is resigning his position on Feb. 23 to take a new one in the federal Department of Defense.

The Pueblo Democrat, who is three weeks into his final session as a state legislator, has long been rumored as a possible candidate for a federal post, given that he is term-limited and that he is close with the administration of President Joe Biden. Garcia served as a leader of Biden’s Latino leadership council during the president’s 2020 campaign.

Garcia previously served as minority leader in the Senate, and also served in the state House of Representatives. His new title, the Senate Democratic caucus said, will be special assistant to the assistant secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs within the Department of Defense at the Pentagon.

“For nearly a decade, I have had the immense honor to represent the People of Pueblo at the Colorado State Capitol, and the privilege to serve as Senate President since 2019,” Garcia said in a written statement. “I am incredibly grateful that my community and my colleagues entrusted me with this responsibility, and I have been humbled by the opportunity to serve the state I love. While my time in the Senate is coming to a close, I am proud of all that we’ve accomplished together to move Colorado forward, and I am confident that whomever is selected to fill these vacancies will serve with the integrity and tenacity that Coloradans deserve.”

The Senate Democratic caucus did not immediately name a likely replacement for the role of president. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat who is also term-limited, sought the job before Garcia won it ahead of the 2019 legislative session.

Garcia, who served in the Marines and is a trained and still-practicing first responder in Pueblo, has been known as a hands-off leader who generally does not interfere with his members’ policy pursuits. He’s been a reliably liberal vote for the caucus, though notably stood apart from his colleagues by voting in 2019 against a “red flag” gun bill that allows courts to order firearms seized from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

But now and then Garcia did champion big or controversial changes, including in 2020 when he helped lead landmark police reform legislation that was inspired by Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.

In addition to the rumors that Garcia might one day take a federal position, he has for years been rumored as a potential congressional candidate. He passed on running for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in 2020, when Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won the seat.

This is a developing story and it will be updated.

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