Jerry Kopel

Passing the torch after long service. Before term limits in the legislature, that wasn't hard to do. Between 1872 and 2004, there have been seven legislators that fit the definition of consistent service over 132 years either as legislator or three as also lieutenant governor presiding over the Senate.

For much of the information on the first legislator mentioned, I'm indebted to former Rep. Jim Moore who wrote a treatise on the men who developed the Colorado constitution of 1876.

Colorado wasn't a state in 1872, but Casimiro Barela was elected to the territorial legislature in 1872 at age 25. The Las Animas Democrat won election as Las Animas county sheriff in 1874, and was one of the 39 delegates (24 Republicans and 15 Democrats) elected to compose the state constitution beginning in December of 1875.

In 1876, Barela was elected to the state senate and according to state legislative council records, he remained there for 41 consecutive years, ending with retirement in 1916, and died in 1920 at age 73. Barela served as senate president pro tem in 1893 and 1901.

The torch then passes to Robert Rockwell, a Republican from Paonia, and a rancher, as was Barela. Rockwell won election to the Colorado House in 1916 at age 30, served a second term in 1918, was elected to the state senate in 1920, and lieutenant governor in 1922, which meant he was also president of the Senate for 1923-24.

Rockwell returned to the senate from 1938 to 1941, was elected in fill a vacancy in the U.S. Congress in 1941 and served there through 1946. He died in 1950.

Royal Calkins, a Republican from Cortez, served twelve years in the House from 1921-30 and 1933-34. He was elected speaker for 1929-30.

D.E. Hunter, a Democrat from Manzanola was elected to the House in 1926, served three terms and was Speaker from 1931-32. He was elected twice to the state senate, 1932 to 1940.

Ed "Big Ed" Johnson, Democrat from Craig, was elected to four consecutive terms in the Colorado House beginning in 1923, and was Democrat lieutenant governor and president of the Senate from 1931-32. He is the only person in Colorado elected governor three terms and U.S. Senator three terms.

Ray Talbot of Pueblo served 10 days as Colorado governor, Jan 2 to Jan 12, 1937, filling out Ed Johnson's unexpired term. Talbot, a Democrat, served one term in the House 1927-28, one term as state senator elected in 1928, and then elected twice as lieutenant governor through 1936.

Democrat Sam Taylor of Walsenburg began life as Sam Tesitor. He was elected to the Senate in November of 1934 and remained there 40 years through 1974 serving consecutively longer than anyone except Sen. Barela. He served as Senate Majority or Minority leader 14 years and as President Pro Tem for two years.

Democrat Wayne Knox of Denver was elected to the House in 1960, lost election in 1962, returned from 1965 through 1972, when he stepped aside to allow Dick Lamm to run unopposed for the House seat. He returned in 1975, serving through 1996, a total of 32 years, longer than any other legislator except Barela and Taylor.

Democrat Peggy Reeves served in the House in 1983-84, lost in the 1984 election (only 18 Democrats were elected to the House that year) regained her seat in the 1986 election and served in the House through 1996, when she was elected to the Senate, where she will serve through 2004, a total of 20 years.

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