DelGrosso tapped as new Minority Leader in House

The Colorado Statesman

Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, was elected by acclamation Thursday morning as the House Republican Minority Leader, succeeding Rep. Mark Waller who resigned his leadership post earlier this month so he can run for attorney general.

“I am both humbled and honored that my colleagues have entrusted me with this new role,” said DelGrosso afterwards.

Waller, of Colorado Springs, said DelGrosso’s experience on both the House Finance and House Appropriations Committee “gave him an intimate understanding of the fiscal realities that confront our state, and his enterprising spirit will serve him well as he helps our party shape the policies and solutions that will help every Colorado family and business owner improve their fortunes.”

Rep. Brian DelGrosso

DelGrosso joined the Legislature in the summer of 2009 with virtually no political involvement with the Republican Party at any significant level and was a virtual unknown among well-connected politicos.

“I’ve never been elected before,” DelGrosso told The Colorado Statesman shortly after 55 Larimer County Republicans on the HD 51 vacancy committee selected him to replace Rep. Don Marostica, who took a new job as director of the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

“This is a whole new world,” he said.

DelGrosso, who owns three Domino’s Pizza outlets in the Loveland and Windsor areas, brought nothing but his business sense and his fresh face to the vacancy election in Loveland back in 2009. He defeated two better-known opponents with flawless conservative credentials who also were vying to replace Marostica, who was considered by many in the Larimer GOP to be too moderate for the district he served.

After the candidates made their speeches and the votes were counted, DelGrosso had won the vacant seat on the second ballot — much to his amazement.

“I'm definitely surprised,” the stunned first-timer told The Statesman at the time. “From the beginning, I was told that I was a long shot to win (but) that, even if I was not going to win, (I) should be in it for the experience. And then I ended up winning. I'm totally surprised.”

Unlike most of his opponents for the vacant position — who spent the bulk of their floor speeches decrying Democrats, criticizing President Barack Obama and railing against health care reform, runaway spending and the loss of liberty and socially conservative values — DelGrosso used his 90 seconds to talk about his struggle as a business owner.

“Our economy is struggling, our families are struggling, and businesses are struggling to stay open and not just laying people off,” DelGrosso said.

“I know a lot of the candidates are saying a lot of the same stuff. But I think my vast experience as a business owner is what differentiates (me),” he continued before the vacancy committee voted.

“I know what it’s like to have to be responsible for an employee. I know what it's like to have to lead them. I know what it's like to have to meet a payroll and guide a business,” he told vacancy committee members four years ago.

Born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyo., DelGrosso moved to Colorado after serving in the Air Force and the Wyoming National Guard.

DelGrosso’s deep understanding of the obstacles confronting business owners across the state helped him quickly develop a name for himself as one of the business community’s staunchest advocates, his Republican caucus pointed out this week, first during the 2010 debate surrounding the Democrats “dirty dozen” tax increases, and later in his role serving on the House Finance and House Appropriations Committee.

Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, congratulated DelGrosso on his election by the House Republican caucus as minority leader.

“I admire Brian’s analytical skills and his willingness to work hard to find common ground,” Ferrandino said. “We don’t always agree, but we do always manage to have a productive dialogue. I congratulate him and hope he will lead his caucus toward bipartisan solutions on the issues most important to the people of Colorado.”