As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:
Gov. John Hickenlooper [Tuesday] appointed former state Rep. Glenn Vaad to the Public Utilities Commission, calling the former transportation department employee “a distinguished leader who has dedicated much of his life to public service.”
“He knows how to listen to all sides of an issue and work with varied interests to find common ground,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “Glenn is calm, courageous and a good addition to the Public Utilities Commission.”
Former GOP Rep. Glenn Vaad is no far right winger, and was defeated in 2012 in the Republican primary for the Colorado Senate District 23 seat by now-Sen. Vicki Marble–a primary Marble won with the support of Dudley Brown and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Since then, as is a matter of public record, Sen. Marble has proven a rather spectacular embarrassment to her fellow Republicans, which we have to imagine is a point of amusement for former Rep. Vaad.
As far as Vaad's suitability for appointment to the Public Utilities Commission, supporters point to Vaad's vote in favor of the 2010 "Clean Air, Clean Jobs" legislation to switch many Front Range coal power plants to natural gas. Bartels notes obligative groans from the coal industry. But in 2012, Rep. Vaad also voted to roll back Colorado's landmark renewable energy standard.
Bottom line: Vaad is certainly a more reasonable Republican than the one who defeated him for Shawn Mitchell's Senate seat. With that said, his performance on the PUC may or may not please Hickenlooper's increasingly energy-restive Democratic base. That will depend on how Vaad actually votes on the commission; and those votes will reflect on Gov. Hickenlooper as well.