Colorado Politics: You made quite a name for yourself on the fentanyl bill in 2022 (Lynch was one of the original co-prime sponsors, but pulled his name off the bill at its final vote over a disagreement about felony possession). How do you follow that up?

Mike Lynch: I've got a whole 'nother view and vision of this building now that I'm the minority leader. One of the things that I'm quite frankly not happy about with the minority leader [job] is that you kind of quit legislating to a certain extent. You get more in the administration of things. I felt like I was just getting good at legislating. That doesn't mean that I'll stop but my focus is being directed to a whole bunch of different directions than just worrying about good legislation at this point. I'm worried about a whole bunch of legislation that may not have my name on it, but I'm kind of directing traffic with the caucus.

CP: What was the best lesson from your military service and how you will apply it to running the House GOP caucus?

ML: I often tell people that I never lean as much on my military experience or my West Point experience or any of that more than I have since I've been down at the legislature.

Primarily that's because the basic lessons of leadership that you learn through the military and specifically through West Point really do play out in the state House, basic things like leadership by example. When in charge take charge, that's the latest one. I didn't seek out this position, but once you're in a position, no matter how you got there, you now have it and you have to go forward with it. That's where take charge comes from.

What I've discovered is that really not a lot of the general public has military-type leadership skills. The No. 1 lesson from military leadership is lead by example. So I can't have people follow on me if I can't be a good example to them.

CP: What do you think your biggest job is going to be in that 2023 session, aside from managing the smallest caucus in history.

ML: Even though it's a small number, it's still a big task. Making sure that the vision that all of the people in my caucus were sent down here to fulfill from their constituents is to the best of their ability fulfilled is really my number one job, and making sure my caucus has whatever they need to carry forward the voices of 40% of this state.

Yeah, we lost, but there's still millions of people who are Republicans and there's still millions of people who have conservative ideals and who live in this state. Just because we're outnumbered does not mean that suddenly those viewpoints of conservatism don't get represented down here. That's the challenge, to make sure that those voices are still heard from those communities that are in the minority. I don't want the people who we share values with to feel like they are slighted or they are not part of a minority, and that their voices are still being carried down here at the Capitol.

CP: Does your caucus have a key agenda for this upcoming session?

ML: We're going to keep pounding on the things that are affecting this state. We we're still seeing a lack of affordability. We are very concerned about attacks on TABOR because we firmly believe that has kept us financially from falling off the cliff. Public safety is at an all time concern to folks. We're just  going to focus on those same issues, even though in the election people agreed with us on those, they didn't vote for us for that. Those issues have not gone away.

The budget last year was kind of almost a fictitious year where we had money that we had never seen before. And so now we have to make sure that we're the adults in the room when we come back to adjusting how we spend money.

CP: What kind of relationship do you have with the incoming Speaker Julie McCluskie?

ML: We were on one fun bill last year, the Firehawk helicopter bill.

We've always got along great. The communication since we've both been in leadership has been phenomenal. She's been very gracious, very understanding.

She has made it clear that her agenda will also include ours as well. We've got a great relationship from before that goes from working together on bills. I'm also excited that we've got a speaker that's not from Denver. It's been quite a while since we've seen that. My caucus is particularly excited that she'll be a little more understanding of kind of rural agenda that my caucus has as well.

CP: What's your relationship like with the governor? (Lynch has seen 17 of his House-sponsored bills signed into law in his first two years, a high rate of success for a lawmaker in the minority.)

ML: A lot of the most interaction I had with the governor was during the fentanyl bill, but most of that was not direct relationship. So to be honest with you, we don't have a one-on-one relationship. But I look forward to working with him. I don't have any bones to pick with him. I like the fact that he comes from a common sense business background and I think we'll be able to find some area which we actually will get along pretty well on. 

CP: The lawmaker that you admire most from the other side of the aisle and from your side of the aisle.

ML: Rep. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs, who is term-limited after eight years in the House. From the Democrats' side: Speaker Alec Garnett of Denver. The two carried the fentanyl bill in the 2022 session. Another is Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. I never agree with him. I respect that skill, that trade. Both him and Terri are exquisite at their skills.


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