Jane Norton for Senate: The next great GOP hope

Categories: News, Politics

jane norton photo.JPG
Jane Norton.
Last month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee registered a couple of domain names on behalf of former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton -- and today, Norton's using one of them, JaneNortonForColorado.com. Up-front: A news item that declares, "Jane Norton officially filed the Jane Norton for Colorado campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission. The committee will allow Norton the opportunity to explore a bid for the United States Senate in 2010." And if that's still too ambiguous for you, consider this: When I searched for new Norton content on YouTube (nothing yet), an ad popped up on the left side of the screen reading, "Jane Norton for Colorado: The voice and experience Colorado needs in the US Senate."

Norton's site is fairly anemic thus far. Aside from the aforementioned news item, which is only a little longer than the lines quoted above, there's a "Volunteer" button that doesn't work yet (it returns the person clicking to the home page) and a lengthy biography. The latter presents an impressively wide-ranging résumé, but questions about how large a mark Norton has left in her home state are epitomized by her Wikipedia page, which, at this writing, consists of just three sentences: "Jane E. Norton was Lieutenant Governor of Colorado from 2003 to 2007 during the second term of Governor Bill Owens. She was the third woman and first Republican woman to serve as Lt. Governor of Colorado. Prior to Norton's term as Lt. Governor, she served as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment during Owen's first term. Norton is reportedly considering a run for U.S. Senate against incumbent Senator Michael Bennet in 2010."

At this point, though, Norton's lack of signature accomplishments hardly represents a fatal flaw. As long as her old boss Bill Owens can't be lured back into the political ring, she's as strong a hope as the Republicans have right now of unseating Bennet, even though Ryan Frazier, Ken Buck and plenty of other hopefuls got a considerable head start.

Look below for Norton's bio:

Meet Jane Norton

A third generation, lifelong Coloradan, Jane E. Norton was named the first executive director for the Denver Police Foundation (DPF) February 1, 2007. The DPF supports individual officers and their families in times of crisis and provides equipment, training and technology in support of Denver's police officers. Norton serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership whose mission is to strengthen the region's collective capacity to prevent, respond to, and recover from natural and human-caused disasters through effective public-private collaboration. She is a 2009 graduate of the FBI Citizens' Academy. In 2007 she participated in a Civic Leader tour hosted by General Gene Renuart, Commander of NORAD/NORTHCOM, touring the nation's missile defense operations in Colorado, California, Washington, and Alaska. She has participated the West Point Combating Terrorism Center and National Homeland Defense Foundation Symposium training sessions.

Prior to her work in support of law enforcement, Norton was sworn in as Colorado's 46th Lieutenant Governor January 13, 2003. By Colorado Constitution, Norton assumed full powers and responsibilities of the Governor when the Governor was absent from the state. Her duties included appointing a state court judge, signing legislation into law, and hosting the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Jordanian Armed Forces as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program. She led Colorado's trade mission to the Czech Republic, and served in the Governor's cabinet. Lt Governor Norton's responsibilities also included serving as Chair of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs; advancing the state's space industry; assisting Colorado's small businesses by acting as point person for the Owens Administration on health insurance reform; strengthening families by overseeing the state's community service and volunteerism initiatives, mentoring programs, the Colorado Head Start Collaboration, and establishing Colorado's Committee to Promote Adoption. During her term as LG, Norton was elected by her peers to serve as chair (2005-2006) of the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA), garnering national support for Colorado-based Project C.U.R.E., bone marrow donation, sexual predator legal reform, and an award-winning cervical cancer public awareness campaign. During her term as NLGA chair, she also led a delegation to the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Project ChildSafe recognized her for her work promoting firearms safety.

In 2004 she participated in a US Presidential Delegation to the Inauguration of President Saca of El Salvador.

In 2003 she was part of a Council of State Governments delegation to Mexico with Governor Mike Huckabee to promote dialogue between US leaders and their Mexican counterparts on trade, cross border cooperation, and immigration policy. The trip, which began in El Paso, included meetings with Mexican President Vincente Fox, the State Government of Chihuahua, Municipal Government of Ciudad Juarez, visiting Juarez maquilas, Mexico City, Hildalgo State Governor, and the migrant community of San Jeronimo in the City of El Arenal.

Indian Affairs

As the statutorily named Chair of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, LG Norton worked to address Native American issues within the State, forging productive relationships between the two Ute Tribes and the State. She was instrumental in bringing to completion the Southern Ute Tribe and State of Colorado Intergovernmental Air Quality Implementation Act, including passage of federal legislation; and worked successfully with stakeholders to facilitate the proper handling of inadvertent discoveries of human remains, developing a much-needed fact sheet for the media and communities as part of the commission's outreach efforts.

Aerospace/Economic Development

In recognition that Colorado had the third largest space economy in the nation with over 164,000 space-related jobs, Norton took the lead role in promoting the industry. She co-chaired the Colorado Space Coalition, developing an advisory dialogue with Colorado's congressional delegation on key issues, marketing Colorado's space assets nationally, expanding networking opportunities among Colorado's space companies, defining the future role of space in the nation through the Congressional Space Power Caucus, expanding space communications and ground control business, reducing licensing and export restrictions, expanding workforce development, supporting the Moon to Mars exploration initiative, and maintaining science funding in Colorado. In addition, Norton served on the board of advisors for the National Institute for Science, Space and Security and participated in the National Space Symposium. She supported a successful effort to locate to Denver the Lockheed Martin/Boeing partnership of the United Launch Alliance. She was elected vice-chair of the Aerospace States Association, participating in Washington, DC hearings promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Norton has been recognized for her aerospace efforts by NASA, the Colorado Space Business Roundtable, the Colorado Space Coalition, the Aurora Economic Development Council, the Space Foundation, and Shades of Blue. The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce selected her as the Elected Official of the Year in 2006. By Governor Owens' Executive Order, Norton was also named chair of the Henderson Underground Science and Engineering Project Advisory Commission. The Colorado Community Revitalization Association in 2006 recognized her for highlighting outstanding downtown redevelopment efforts across Colorado.

Healthcare

Because of her extensive healthcare background, the Governor asked Norton to act as point person for the Owens Administration on reforming Colorado's healthcare system. This effort focused on improving health care for low-income, working families through commonsense reforms; giving individuals and families more power over their health care decisions; helping rural Colorado meet its unique health care challenges; and on making health insurance more affordable for Colorado's small businesses.

Successful reforms included passage of legislation allowing small business to purchase a lower cost, basic health plan with fewer government mandates; allowing small businesses to pool together to purchase health insurance, leveraging greater purchasing power; requiring a thorough cost/benefit analysis on any new mandated health insurance benefit proposed by the legislature before it can be imposed on consumers; and limiting increases in medical malpractice premiums.

Norton worked on other innovative reforms including a tele-health pilot program for Medicaid patients with chronic medical conditions, reducing overall costs, especially hospital charges and emergency room visits, while enhancing the lives of chronically ill patients; support for a pilot program giving disabled Coloradans greater flexibility, choice and control over their care; a statewide disease management pilot; and consumer-directed health care through implementation of Health Savings Accounts at the state level.

The Persons Living with HIV Action Network of Colorado presented Norton with the Legislator of the Year Award for her work to restore funding to the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program. In addition, Norton was the Colorado spokesperson for the American Heart Association's "Go Red for Women Campaign," and the Colorado March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign. She also co-chaired the state's Health Disparities Commission.

Strengthening Families

Norton's focus on strengthening families included overseeing the state's community service and volunteerism initiatives, mentoring programs, the Colorado Head Start Collaboration Office, and adoption initiative. As such, she oversaw the Governor's Commission on Community Service, AmeriCorps program, Citizen Corps, and the Colorado Cares Day initiative, an annual day of community service celebrating the anniversary of Colorado's statehood, created in 1999 by the Governor. Recognizing the importance of volunteerism as a critical means of accomplishing community goals, under LG Norton's leadership, Colorado Cares Day grew from a small, localized effort into a statewide voluntary event involving more than 85 projects such as cleaning up youth centers to removing tamarisk at state parks. In 2006, the El Pomar Foundation recognized her efforts promoting community service.

Community Preparedness

LG Norton has been recognized for her work advancing community and citizen preparedness initiatives. She worked with first responders and concerned citizens across the state to implement Citizen Corps Councils through the Governor's Commission on Community Service. Twenty-four Citizen Corps Councils in 9 All-Hazards Regions in Colorado were established under her leadership. Norton also served as a member of the state's Homeland Security and All-Hazard Senior Advisory Committee. In 2006, she was invited by the White House to speak about the tragic Columbine High School shooting at the "Summit on School Safety."

Early Childhood Education

Under Norton's leadership, Colorado's Head Start Collaboration Office created a visible presence for Head Start at the state level in support of improving services to low-income families with children ages birth to five years old. Her efforts resulted in Head Start's closer collaboration with Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood activities through TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families); improving the delivery system of the Child Care Assistance Program; promoting childcare quality improvements; and oral health services. In 2005, The Childrens Hosptial recognized Norton for supporting Early Childhood Interventions efforts.

Mentoring

As the state's lead on mentoring, Norton played a critical role in expanding mentoring opportunities for Colorado's youth. She did so by effectively raising the level of public awareness, increasing community support, and building the organizational capacity essential to impacting and enhancing the lives of Colorado's youth. She has received the "Public Servant of the Year" by the Rocky Mountain Family Council, Family Values Award from the LDS Church, 2005 Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction, Regis University's David M. Clarke, S.J. Innovative Leadership Award (1999); and Colorado State University's College of Applied Human Sciences Honor Alumna Award.

Education

Recognizing the critical link between education and the state's economy, Norton served as Colorado's delegate to the Education Commission of the States, participating in the formation of policies and plans for in the improvement and financing of public education. As LG, she promoted the College in Colorado initiative, Read Across America, Colorado History Day competitions, and assisted with school supply drives for children of Hurricane Katrina evacuees relocated to Colorado.

In 2004, following the tragic death of Colorado sophomore Samantha Spady who was found dead in a fraternity house from alcohol poisoning, the President of Colorado State University appointed LG Norton to chair the CSU Alcohol Task Force which analyzed best practices around the nation to address the growing problem of binge drinking and alcohol abuse among college-age students. The Task Force made over 40 specific recommendations regarding improvements the campus and surrounding Fort Collins community could make to reduce the incidents of alcohol abuse and the negative consequences this abuse has students, families, and communities. She partnered with the Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division to present the "Alcohol in College Towns- ACT Now" Conference, which continued the work of the task force.

Adoption

LG Norton convened a Committee to Promote Adoption who reviewed and identified pertinent laws and regulations that impeded the goal of timely adoptions; passed legislative and regulatory fixes to create a more adoption-friendly system; provided prospective adoptive families with statewide, comprehensive assistance around the process, both pre- and post- adoption; and developed a public relations/educational campaign to increase awareness of a child's need for permanency and to recruit families. As a result of the Committee's work, Colorado now has several new laws and rule changes in place that have done much to improve the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable children.

Veterans

In gratitude for those who have served our Nation, LG Norton made working on veterans issues a top priority. She had the privilege of awarding over $200,000 to veteran organizations through the State Veterans Trust Fund. In November 2004, Norton, by executive order, was named Chair of the Fitzsimmons State Veterans Nursing Home Accountability Committee. The committee was created to oversee conditions at the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home. LG Norton also coordinated fundraising efforts and accompanied 24 of Colorado's World War II veterans with limited means to attend the dedication ceremonies for the National World War II Memorial which took place on Memorial Day, 2004 in Washington, DC. She served as co-chair of the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation. In recognition of her efforts on behalf of Colorado's veterans, the United Veterans Committee of Colorado honored her with the Distinguished Veterans Advocate Award. The Colorado National Guard also presented her with the Meritorious Service Award for her support of our troops, their families, and veterans. Norton currently has a grandson serving in the US Army.

Norton has served on the Boards of Directors of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES); and the American Council of Young Political Leaders, participating in 1992 delegation to the People's Republic of China and a 2005 "Women in Democracy Building" delegation in support of the US Missions in Indonesia and East Timor, at the time, the world's newest democracy.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Prior to her election as LG, Norton was appointed Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment by Governor Bill Owens, a position she held from 1999-2002. As such, she had regulatory and programmatic responsibilities ranging from bio-terrorism preparedness; disease prevention and epidemiology; health facilities; family and community health services; emergency medical services; air and water quality protection; hazardous waste and solid waste management; and consumer protection. She managed a staff of 1,100 with a budget of over $280 million.

As Executive Director she served as Secretary, State Board of Health; Chair, Governor's Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee; Board of Directors, Regional Air Quality Council; Leadership Council of the Multi-Agency Wildfire Restoration and Rehabilitation Team; Colorado Natural Resource Damages Trustee; Colorado Strategic Planning Group on Health Care Coverage; Association of State and Territorial Health Officers; National Governors Association's Oral Health Policy Academy Colorado Team; and sat on the Governor's Disaster Emergency Council. Ms. Norton has also served on the Children's Basic Health Plan Policy Board; Governor's Task Force on Victim Support for the Columbine High School Tragedy; co-chair of the Colorado Commission on Children's Dental Health; Task Force on Small Group and Rural Access Issues; Governor's Task Force for Persons with Disabilities; and the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Issues in Long Term Care.

During her tenure at the Department, Norton led the charge to provide funding for treatment of low-income women who were diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer; created the Office of Suicide Prevention; protected the elderly by increasing staff for nursing home inspections; improved oral health among Colorado's children by helping craft a dental program for the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+); helped ensure Colorado schools are properly using and disposing of hazardous chemicals used in chemistry labs; led Colorado's efforts to prepare for a bioterrorism incident; worked to increase the number of low-income children receiving health insurance coverage through Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+); helped increase the dental workforce in rural areas of the state through legislation that created a dental loan repayment program; promoted the successful $22M Rural Health Care Initiative to improve rural Colorado's access to primary, mental, and dental health care services; and launched the Nurse Home Visitor Program. In 2006 Norton was recognized by the Yellow Ribbon International Suicide Prevention Program with the "Torch Award" for her efforts to prevent suicide.

Medical Group Management Association

Prior to joining the Owens Administration Norton worked for the Englewood-based Medical Group Management Association, heading its Office of State Government Relations and Office of Strategic Relationships. Her responsibilities included monitoring health care reform legislative and regulatory proposals in the 50 states on behalf of MGMA's 18,000 clinic administrator members and 6,700 medical group members; and expanding relationships with industry partners and the nation's medical schools. (March 1994- January 1999).

US Department of Health & Human Services

Norton was tapped by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to serve as the six state (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY) regional director of the US Department of Health and Human Services, serving as representative and spokesperson in the region for the Secretary; acting as liaison with the general public, governors, legislators, congressional delegations, mayors and other elected officials; and providing the central focus for the region's 3,500 employees and 250 programs which included Social Security, Food and Drug Administration, Medicare, Medicaid, Public Health Service, Head Start, Child Support Enforcement and welfare. (April 1988- January 1993)

Colorado General Assembly

Norton has served as a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, filling the remainder of an unexpired term from mid-1986 to January 1987.

Family

Jane is the daughter of Elinor Pitman Bergman, a retired Grand Junction public school teacher and native of Pueblo, and Walter F. "Bus" Bergman, a native of Denver and retired Mesa College coach. Jane's father, Major Walter "Bus" Bergman, United States Marine Corps, Retired, served in the 229th- 6th Marine Division during World War II. Bergman was awarded the Bronze Star for extraordinary heroism during the capture of Okinawa and the Battle of Sugar Loaf Hill. On October 25, 1945, he participated in the ceremony at the surrender of Japanese military forces in Tsingtao, China. Bergman is a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Jane was born (October 12, 1954) and raised in Grand Junction with sister Judy Black of Washington, DC and brother Walt Bergman, a retired public school teacher in Grand Junction. She has lived in Fort Collins and Greeley and currently resides in Englewood. She began teaching middle school in Fort Lupton after graduating from college. Jane is married to Mike Norton, former US Attorney of Colorado. She is the mother of two grown children (Lacee and Tyler Artist), two step-children, and enjoys seven grandchildren, one of whom is serving in the US Army. Norton serves on the board of Denver Seminary; teaches the 2 year olds with her husband at their church, Smoky Hill Vineyard; and is an avid hiker and skier. In addition to her official travel mentioned above, she has visited Israel, Turkey, Greece, Europe, Brazil, and Equador.

Education

Jane is a 1972 graduate of Grand Junction High School. In 1976 she graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in health sciences. She also has a Master of Sciences in Management degree from Regis University, Denver.

Political

Norton has held several Republican leadership roles, including serving as the Assistant Secretary to the 2004 Republican National Convention; serving on the State GOP Central Committee; Delegate to the Republican National Convention; Congressional District Chairman; Weld County Officer; Governor Bill Owens' Arapahoe County Precinct Coordinator; Jack Kemp for President Colorado Campaign Director, Congressman Joel Hefley's Arapahoe County Chair; Colorado Federation of Republican Women's Political Chair, Platform Chair and Board of Directors; National Federation of Republican Women's Newfounders' Chair; President of the Greeley Republican Women's Club; Precinct Committeewoman; Cherry Creek Republican Women's Club member; House District 48 Vacancy Committee; 1984 Armstrong Ambassador - Weld County Chair; 4th Congressional District Chair of Women for Reagan-Bush '84; WHEN - Women Helping Elect (Gale) Norton Chairman- 1994; Dole/Kemp Business and Professional Women's Coalition Chair - 1996. Lieutenant Governor Norton also participated in the Republican Leadership Program and is a founding member of the Colorado Republican Business Coalition. She has spoken at over four dozen of Colorado's County Lincoln Day Dinners.

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