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Pueblo political mainstay Ray Kogovsek passes on — and evokes a torrent of tributes

Author: Dan Njegomir - May 2, 2017 - Updated: June 6, 2017

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The death Sunday of onetime 3rd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Ray Kogovsek — a legend in southern Colorado politics, a linchpin in the state Democratic Party and a friend to countless Coloradans — has prompted an outpouring of praise and memories from fellow Puebloans as well as the state’s political establishment.

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper captured the moment and the sentiments from a host of political notables. Roper did some diligent reporting tracking down quite a few of them. Here’s Democratic former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm:

“Ray never took politics personally. … He had such joy. He was the role model of a good legislator in my mind. He was always a solid Democrat but understood that Democrats don’t have all the answers either, so he was willing to reach out and work with Republicans and anyone.”

…”If we had lawmakers like Ray on both sides of the aisle today, there isn’t anything our state couldn’t get accomplished.”

Former Colorado Republican Chair and longtime political image maker Dick Wadhams:

“Ray was a good man, plain and simple, and that made him the politician he was. … I remember when Republicans were looking at redrawing the 3rd District to include some of Jefferson County and they laughed and said, ‘Kogovsek won’t survive that.’ ”

“I told them never count out Ray Kogovsek. He’ll be tough to beat wherever you draw the lines.”

Legendary lobbyist and Pueblo power broker Wally Stealey:

“I’ve lost my good friend and so has Pueblo. … He was a good legislator and good lobbyist for Colorado. It was impossible to know Ray and not consider him your friend. He had that great personality that let him tell somebody to go to hell and they wouldn’t take it personally because he didn’t mean it that way.”

Democratic state Rep. Daneya Esgar of Pueblo:

“Before I even ran for office, Ray made time to meet with me when I was a community organizer. … He had heard about the work I was doing in the Pueblo community and wanted to know how he could help me succeed.”

Be sure to read Roper’s full story; it taps into a Who’s Who of Colorado politics that is sure to enlighten those who were unfamiliar with Kogovsek and warm the many who knew him. Here’s the link again.

And for the record, here’s Kogovsek’s biography in brief, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Kogovsek graduated from Pueblo Catholic High School, 1959. He attended Pueblo Junior College, Pueblo, Colorado from 1960 to 1962. Kogovsek received his Bachelor of Science degree from Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado, 1964. He then did graduate work, at University of Denver, 1965. He served in the Pueblo County Clerk office from 1964 to 1973. He worked as a paralegal aide from 1974 to 1978. Kogovsek served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1969 to 1971. He then served in the Colorado Senate from 1971 to 1978. He served as a delegate, Colorado State Democratic conventions from 1966 to 1979.

Kogovsek was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-sixth and to the two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1985). He did not seek reelection to the Ninety-ninth Congress. He was a resident of Pueblo, Colorado. Kogovsek died on April 30, 2017.

 

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.