Owens points to gov’t reform, transportation as legacy


DENVER – He was a rising star in the Republican Party, a darling of conservatives who once considered him a potential presidential candidate. But he went to villain in seven short years, leaving pundits with one of the biggest mysteries in Colorado political history – what happened to the career of Gov. Bill Owens?Headed into Thursday’s State of the State address – his last, since term limits will force him out of office after this year – Owens seems almost happy, satisfied. He chatters about Denver’s professional sports teams and Democrats with the same wry smile. He’s looking forward to attending the Broncos’ playoff game Saturday night.Owens says he has no plans to run for the Senate in 2008 when GOP Sen. Wayne Allard is up for re-election. Owens says he expects Allard to run again, though he did not rule out a potential run.”Never say never,” Owens said during a recent hour-long interview with the Associated Press.Owens said he plans to seek a job in the private sector after he leaves office, hoping to earn enough money to finish putting his children through college after 24 years in public service, as a legislator, state treasurer and governor.For now, one of his biggest goals will be reforming the state’s pension plan for public employees. It is facing a $12.8 billion shortfall because of the recent recession.Ask Owens about his biggest accomplishments during his nearly two terms in office and he points to education measures that require the state to measure performance in public schools. He cites accelerating funding for highway construction projects. He is proud of leading the to fix a loophole that allowed the teenage killers at Columbine High School to buy weapons at gun shows. He has tried to limit the impact of rapid growth on communities.

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