Colorado's next lieutenant governor is poised to be a top executive from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Gov. John Hickenlooper nominated Donna Lynne, an executive vice president at Kaiser, saying she would be very capable filling his shoes if he doesn't end up finishing his second term. Hickenlooper has long been rumored as a possible cabinet pick for a Democratic President.
"If I were offered something in Washington I would certainly look at it, but especially right now, I could not be happier to be the governor of Colorado," Hickenlooper said.
Lynne has a master's degree and a doctorate in public health from Columbia University. In addition to her 11 years with Kaiser, she serves on a number of business and civic boards.
"I don't think I would have done this had the governor not asked me," Lynne said of the nomination, but her enthusiasm for the role was evident.
"I’m particularly passionate about invigorating the state workforce and making it a great place to work."
If confirmed, she would have a dual role. Hickenlooper is creating the position of chief operating officer for the state.
"Someone who is really focused on, 'how do you integrate the operational capacity of the entire state,'" said Hickenlooper, adding that he wants her to help the state deliver more services for less money.
"You don't have to lay anyone off, baby boomers are going to be retiring in large numbers over the next five or ten years and we can use technology, we can actually make government smaller," he said.
Both the Republican controlled Senate and the Democratic controlled House would have to confirm Lynne's nomination. Democratic leaders from both chambers were on hand for the announcement. Republican Senate President Bill Cadman wasn't present, but said he supports the nomination.
"As a longtime community leader and activist she certainly would bring valuable experience and perspective to the job if confirmed," Cadman said. "At a time when health care is such a significant focus of public concern for government, business and individuals, hopefully she'll be just what the doctor ordered."
Lynne would replace outgoing Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia who is taking another job. His last day is April 29, 2016. The governor's office is hoping that Lynne will begin her position a few days afterward. While the possibility remains that Hickenlooper might depart his second term early if asked to go to Washington D.C., Lynne doesn't have her eyes on becoming the state's top executive. She said she would not run for governor in 2018.