I don't know Joe Garcia personally but I've heard positive things about him for several years. I had heard that Christine Scanlon was the favorite to be Hickenlooper's pick so I can't say I saw Garcia coming but he's not an out-of-left field pick either.
What caught my ear the other night was Hickenlooper's emphasis on Garcia's experience in higher education. Not his executive experience within higher ed but his experience in higher ed generally. That's interesting because the governor of Colorado has no direct authority over higher education. Colorado's system of higher education is run by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. Commissioners are appointed by the governor but no one political party may hold more than 6 seats on the 11 member board.
So why pick someone with serious Higher Education credentials? Well, if you have big plans of reforming our higher education system a guy like Garcia makes a lot of sense. I'm purely speculating at this point but given the precarious condition of higher ed funding in Colorado, the overall condition of the state's budget and the outspoken call for reforms by CU President Bruce Benson I wouldn't be surprised if a big reorganization of higher ed was being discussed.