Michael Bennet dubbed powerful education force by Time magazine

"School of Thought: 11 Education Activists for 2011," just published by Time magazine, contains some predictable names (Michelle Rhee) and some surprising ones (Jeb Bush?). But the highest ranking elected official cited is Senator Michael Bennet, who's been getting a gusher of positive press thanks to his status as one of the few vulnerable Dems to survive the Attack of the Tea Party. Here's what the mag had to say:

Michael Bennet: The Senator

If the federal No Child Left Behind law is modified this year, or if anything else significant happens in Washington on education policy, this Colorado Democrat will be at the center of it. Bennet, who was Denver's superintendent of schools before being appointed to fill a vacant Senate seat in 2009, beat the odds in November and won a full term. He's tight with the President and has credibility with moderates in both parties. For these reasons, he'll be a powerful force when the debate about teacher effectiveness and school accountability heats up in Congress.

As Bennet aide Michael Amodeo notes, the Time blurb represents the second time this week the Colorado senator has been singled out by a major political news organ. On January 2, The Hill listed a handful of Democratic power players who'll be entrusted to defend the party against the rise of the right, and Bennet is mentioned fifth, after Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin and Max Baucus. The Hill snippet reads:

Bennet won one of the toughest Senate reelections of 2010 and earned new respect for his political toughness and instincts. He turned down an offer to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to concentrate on legislating.

Democratic aides expect Bennet to portray himself as a post-partisan legislator focused on problem solving. His desire for bipartisan compromise and his expertise on education issues could make him a pivotal player when the No Child Left Behind Act comes up for reauthorization in 2011. Bennet served as superintendent of Denver's public schools before joining the Senate in 2009.

Such are the spoils of victory.

More from our Politics archive: "Michael Bennet camp on how the hell he avoided being swept under by Republican tsunami."

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