A Republican vacancy committee on Wednesday elected Colorado state Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale to replace state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, the Hot Sulphur Springs Republican who is resigning his seat later this month in the wake of sexual harassment complaints.
Rankin, who won a fourth term in November representing House District 57 on the Western Slope, prevailed over five others who sought the appointment to the Senate District 8 seat, which covers the northwest corner of the state and includes Summit, Grand, Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.
A member of the powerful Joint Budget Committee, Rankin is expected to continue on the panel as the Senate Republicans' representative, replacing newly elected state Sen. Dennis Hisey of Fountain. Rankin told Colorado Politics Thursday morning that Hisey had known that was a possibility when he was appointed to the JBC.
For Rankin, whether he would be able to stay on JBC was the deciding factor on running for the Senate seat. The 2019 session will mark his fifth year on the JBC, the longest of any member of that committee from either the House or Senate. Rankin also pointed out he will be the only rural, Western Slope lawmaker on the six-member panel, and that he intends to keep a rural lens on every bill and spending decision.
Joyce Rankin, a member of the State Board of Education and the newly anointed senator's wife, told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent she plans to seek an appointment to fill the HD 57 vacancy. That vacancy committee is set to meet Feb. 5. Should she be selected for the vacancy, it would make the Rankins the second husband-and-wife team in the legislature. The first was Sen. Bob Alexander and Rep. Kay Alexander, both of Montrose, whose 1997-98 terms overlapped.
Baumgardner officially steps down on Jan. 21.
It took four rounds of balloting for Rankin to emerge with a majority, according to the Craig Daily Press. He edged out former state Rep. Greg Rippy, a Glenwood Springs Republican, on a 6-4 vote.
Others who sought the nomination included former Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, Breckenridge GOP activist Debra Irvine, Grand County Surveyor Warren Ward and Zachary Parsons, a deputy district attorney.
The 10-member vacancy committee — made up of the Republican senate district officers and the GOP county chairs from SD 8 — met at the fairgrounds in Craig.
Phil Vaughan, chairman of the vacancy committee, said in a statement after the election: "The vacancy committee has conducted a transparent process for selection of the Senate District 8 seat. We are excited to have Bob Rankin as our new state Ssenator and look forward to his representation in this important upcoming legislative session."
Marianne Goodland contributed to this story.