Democrats Should Welcome Doug Bruce

October 19 2007, 7:36 PM
Republican State Sen. Ron May will reportedly resign his seat in his Colorado Springs district, a move that could end up sending the infamous Doug Bruce to the state legislature. As The Colorado Springs Gazette reports:
State Sen. Ron May will resign effective Oct. 31, ending a public service career that began on the Colorado Springs City Council and spanned nearly three decades. May, R-Colorado Springs, faxed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Coffman late Thursday and planned to hand it to him in person today. May had been scheduled to leave office at the end of 2008, when he was term-limited. His departure will set into motion a series of events in which state Rep. Bill Cadman is expected to assume May's seat and several Republicans will battle to finish the final year of Cadman's term. Vacancy committees are expected to fill both seats by the end of November... ...Cadman, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, is the only person who has expressed interest in claiming May's seat and likely would scare off any potential primary opponents in the highly Republican district if he is the incumbent in 2008, the sources said. A vacancy committee made up of Republican precinct chairpersons from Senate District 10 is expected to meet by Nov. 3 to choose May's successor. If it is Cadman, a similar GOP House District 15 vacancy committee will form in the weeks afterward to fill his seat. At least two names have surfaced as potential contenders for that job... ...The other name is that of Bruce, an El Paso County commissioner who has lost two primary races for Senate seats. When asked about it, Bruce declined comment, saying he will make his 2008 election plans known Nov. 7, the day after the 2007 election.
Casual observers may be unfamiliar with Bruce, but as a political figure he is heavily responsible for one of the most significant - and not necessarily for good reasons - policy changes in recent Colorado history. Bruce is the "mastermind" of the so-called Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR, that has thrown a hefty wrinkle in every attempt to reform the state budget for more than a decade. Referendum C was passed in 2005 in order to take a time out from TABOR, which prohibits the state from keeping tax revenue in excess of a formula based on the economy in prior years (a real problem whenever the state goes through a recession). Bruce is an anti-government zealot who is currently an El Paso County Commissioner (for more on Bruce, check out Cara DeGette's work at Colorado Confidential or this profile from The Gazette). He is one of those paradoxical Republicans who hates the government yet is constantly seeking to be elected to public office in order to draw a government salary. His political and business history is ripe with outlandish behavior, from long-standing accusations that he is a "slumlord" to his frequent attempts to sue the county, the city and whomever. Because of Bruce's brash and outspoken personality, some Democrats have engaged in a bit of hand-wringing over the possibility that he could end up in the state legislature someday very soon. For those who are concerned about Bruce, I say this: You have it the other way around. It is Republicans who should be worried that Bruce could end up in the legislature. Bruce is a favorite quote for reporters because of his penchant for outlandish behavior, which makes him a veritable ticking time bomb of disastrous public relations for the GOP. Bruce is similar to right-wing Republicans such as Dave Schultheis, Jim Welker, John Andrews and Janet Rowland in their ability to do and say terrificly stupid things. Anytime one of these nimrods compares homosexuality to bestiality, for example, they make the rest of the Republican Party in Colorado look terrible by association. If Doug Bruce ends up making it to the State Capitol, he'll be one more extremist Republican whose silly behavior will overshadow the more rational and reasonable Republicans in the legislature. That's not a bad outcome for Democrats at all.