Gov. Bill Ritter today announced that he is appointing Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael F. Bennet to represent Colorado in the U.S. Senate, praising Bennet as a proven 21st century leader and problem-solver in both the public and private sectors. "This is a critical time in history," Gov. Ritter said. "The economic challenges facing America and Colorado are unprecedented. People are losing their jobs. Businesses are closing. Families are hurting. Our challenges are so serious that it will take a new generation of leaders, a new way of thinking and a bold new approach to problem-solving to steer us through this. "Uncertain times call for certain leadership, and that's why Michael Bennet is the right choice to represent all Coloradans in the Senate. He has an impressive record of bringing people together to find common ground and common-sense solutions to complex problems, and of turning around troubled public and private enterprises and leaving them far stronger than he found them. "Michael will bring a fresh, new approach to the economic crisis," Gov. Ritter said. "He knows we can't fix our 21st-century problems with 20th-century solutions. Working alongside Sen.-elect Udall and President-elect Obama, Michael will devote the same sense of forward-looking optimism, vision and energy to this new role that he brings to every aspect of his life and work. " Bennet, 44, will fill the remaining two years of Sen. Ken Salazar's term. Salazar is expected to be confirmed this month as Interior Secretary. "I am humbled and honored to serve the State of Colorado as your next U.S. Senator," Bennet said. "I stand ready to take on the serious challenges facing our country and our state. I have learned from Mayor Hickenlooper that there is no challenge without a solution and no problem too tough to withstand innovative thinking. "My experiences, not only in public service but also in business, have taught me that when people come together, put aside partisan differences, and focus on pragmatic problem-solving, we can accomplish great things," Bennet said. "I will bring these values with me as I join a new generation of leadership in Washington, DC." Bennet was unanimously selected by the Denver school board to serve as superintendent in 2005. Over the past four years, his achievements include: · Winning voter approval and implementing DPS' ProComp program, the nationally recognized teacher pay-for-performance system. · Improving student learning, achievement, graduation rates, enrollment and access to early childhood education opportunities. · Ending multiple years of multimillion-dollar budget cuts and increasing investments directly into classroom learning as well as teacher and principal training. Prior to that, Bennet served from 2003 to 2005 as chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. He helped construct a new leadership team, balance the budget after years of deficits, renegotiate several collective bargaining agreements and redesign police oversight. From 1997 to 2003, Bennet served as managing director for Anschutz Investment Co. in Denver. He oversaw the investment of more than $500 million, led the reorganization of four distressed companies, and restructured $3 billion of debt and consolidated three movie theater chains into Regal Entertainment Group, which today is the largest motion picture exhibitor in the world. "Michael is an accomplished and highly competent leader," Gov. Ritter said. "What impresses me most are his energy, strength of character, temperament and innovative thinking. Michael is the right choice for Colorado's kids, Colorado's families and Colorado's future." "In Colorado we have been blessed, and we can show the nation how to lead on issues like a New Energy Economy and education reform," Bennet said. "But, we are not isolated and we face our own set of challenges with the economy and protecting our land and water. Through the work of leaders like Gov. Ritter, Sen. Salazar and Mayor Hickenlooper I have seen their efforts to keep Colorado a special place, and that will be my mission every day in the U.S. Senate." Additional Details About Michael F. Bennet: Wesleyan University, B.A. history (with honors), 1987 Yale Law School, Juris Doctorate, 1993 (editor-in-chief of The Yale Law Journal) Superintendent, Denver Public Schools, 2005 to present Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, 2003 to 2005 Managing Director, Anschutz Investment Co., Denver, 1997 to 2003 Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Connecticut, 1997 Counsel to Deputy Attorney General, Washington, D.C., 1995 to 1997 Law Clerk, U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1993 to 1994 Personal Assistant, Ohio Gov. Dick Celeste, 1988 to 1990 Married in 1997 to successful natural resources attorney Susan Daggett. They are the proud parents of three daughters: Caroline (9), Halina (7), and Anne (4).
"I congratulate Michael Bennet on his appointment as Colorado's next United States Senator, and Governor Bill Ritter for making a splendid choice. Michael Bennet perfectly reflects the qualities of the ruggedly independent state he has been chosen to serve. An innovator in the public and private sectors, he has shown himself willing to challenge old thinking and stale policies. His breakthrough work at the helm of Denver's schools has reflected that commitment, and established Michael as one of the nation's leading education reformers. He will be a breath of fresh air in Washington."
President-elect Barack Obama
"If I am confirmed to serve as Secretary of the Interior, Michael will bring to the United States Senate an impressive background and a wealth of experience – both as an accomplished public servant and a successful businessman – that will help us tackle the many challenges we face as a state and a nation. If I am confirmed, I am confident Michael will serve the people of Colorado well as our next United States Senator."
"Michael Bennet brings intense personal commitment, intellectual rigor and innovation to any challenge. In addition to his diverse experience in law, the private sector, government and public education, Michael's strong character and dedication to public service will serve Colorado well in the U.S. Senate."
"I called Michael Bennet to offer my warmest congratulations on his appointment to the United States Senate. Michael has been a friend for many years, and I wish him great success representing our state in Washington." Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff "Michael Bennet provided the visionary leadership that has allowed the Denver Public School district to make incredible progress. I know that Colorado will be greatly served by his compassion, his competence and his tireless advocacy. Michael's dedication and ability to bring people together will be assets as we face trying times in America. Michael Bennet is the right choice at this critical moment in our state's history." President, Denver Public School Board "Michael Bennet is a solid choice for Colorado. He has been a leader in school reform and has shown a strong commitment toColorado's children. I look forward to working with the new Senator and building a partnership that will move our state forward." "I am thrilled Michael Bennet will be our next U.S. Senator. He brings a wealth of knowledge from both the public and private sectors and has a proven ability of dealing with complex issues. Colorado needs that kind of new leadership in Washington." "Michael Bennet's appointment to the U.S. Senate signifies a new generation of leaders in Washington, D.C. I know Michael will serveColorado with the energy and tenacity that he has displayed on behalf of public school families during his tenure as DPS Superintendent." President, Colorado State Senate "Michael Bennet is the right choice for Colorado. Families across the state are facing tough times, and it will take a proven leader to stand up on their behalf in Washington, D.C. Michael has unique experiences, an innovative approach to problem-solving, and the skills to bring people together to find real solutions. I am very pleased that we will have a partner like Michael in Washington, DC." Speaker-Designee, Colorado State House of Representatives "Michael Bennet has demonstrated his expertise in a range of public and private leadership positions. His willingness to stretch beyond the familiar, coupled with his efforts to open Denver Public Schools to new ideas and fresh thinking, convinces me that he will representColorado extremely well in the United States Senate." Commissioner of Education, State of Colorado
"I think the world of Michael and think that he's done a great job as superintendent of DPS. Perhaps most important, he has practical financial experience in both the public and private sectors, and this is desperately needed in Washington, D.C."
President, University of Colorado
"Not only is Michael Bennet one of the brightest and most insightful individuals I have known, he also is one of the most effective. That is a rare combination. Results matter to Michael. He is thoughtful and weighs the pros and cons before he acts. His accomplishments as an attorney and businessman were in no small part due to his balance and common sense. He is a good listener and has a great talent for bringing people together around common goals in order to reach a successful outcome for all of the interested parties; but he knows his own values and never strays from them."
Cannon Y. "Cy" Harvey
President, The Anschutz Company
"Michael Bennet is a proven and passionate leader who has worked tirelessly throughout his life to bring new perspectives to a variety of issues. As we try to find solutions to our struggling economy, we need people with Michael's background and experience to help usher in a new way of thinking and a new age in politics. I am very pleased that Gov. Ritter made this choice, as I believe it's what is right forColorado." Chairman, Colorado Concern President/CEO, Sage Hospitality "Gov. Ritter made a fine choice by selecting Michael Bennet. Michael will make a great Senator because he brings tremendous business and administrative experience to the table and he's got the right set of eyes to determine what the real issues are." Former Governor, State of Colorado Former Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District "I believe Michael Bennet will represent Colorado in an A-plus way. I have had the good fortune of working with Michael in two different capacities: first as Chief of Staff for Mayor Hickenlooper and second as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools when I co-chaired the 'A+ Citizens Committee.' In both positions, Michael demonstrated the ability to listen to all points of view, sort out diverse opinions and arrive at a policy decision that is in the citizens' best interest. He has the sound judgment and genuine ability to represent the people ofColorado for years to come. Gov. Ritter made a great choice from a list of great people." "It is indeed a momentous occasion when a 'once in a lifetime leader' is among us. From the beginning of our search for a new leader for DPS some four years ago, I was absolutely certain that Michael Bennet was the very leader our troubled district needed. I never wavered from that belief and have never been discouraged by the decision. Michael Bennet is a person whose vision encompasses the whole: past, present and beyond. I hurt when I think of losing Michael for DPS, but I rejoice in the same certainty I have had for several years now: that his vision and gifts of reason and truth will lead this state and this nation to a better place for all." Former School Board Member, Denver Public Schools "Michael Bennet brings to the office a brilliant mind, a caring heart and an exceptional commitment to public service. Gov. Ritter has made an excellent choice that is in the best interest of the people of Colorado." Chair, U.S. Election Assistance Commission Former President, Denver City Council "Michael Bennet combines attributes of intelligence and collegiality that will serve him very well in the U.S. Senate. Gov. Ritter has made an excellent appointment at a time when the Congress faces extraordinary issues of economic restructuring, war and peace, foreign policy repair, and military reform. The Governor has wisely put the national interest ahead of politics. Michael will be able to fulfill his complex duties immediately and I am confident will impress the people of Colorado more than sufficiently to be elected in 2010 if he chooses to run." United States Senator (Ret.) "As Gov. Bill Ritter's enlightened appointment, Michael Bennet will encourage the change and momentum that the US Senate needs, while bringing to Coloradans a wide-ranging and charming intellect Michael's proven problem-solving capacity will be welcome across the State - he is more than up to the challenges he will face, and he will be a force for reform and our future for many years to come." United States Senator (Ret.) "Governor Ritter made a good decision. Michael Bennet will make an excellent U.S. Senator and Colorado will grow to love him! He's smart, strategic, inclusive and is genuine in his concern for all of people of Colorado." Michael B. Hancock
Denver City Councilman, District 11
"I look forward to working with Michael on the many important issues facing rural Colorado, including protecting our water, natural resources and agricultural base and improving access to health care." Former U.S. Representative, Ray Kogovsek of Pueblo