The thought of the cantankerous Douglas Bruce sauntering into the Colorado legislature has some longtime Republican activists shuddering at the prospect – and beating the bushes for a challenger. Bruce, currently an El Paso County commissioner, has remained mum on his plans – but one Democrat who’s already in the race says she’d welcome a face-off against the man whose bullying tactics in Colorado are legendary.
As detailed in this space several weeks ago, GOP leaders in the conservative stronghold of El Paso County have lately grown nervous at the prospect that Bruce, who lives in eastern Colorado Springs, is eyeing a run for House District 15 in 2008. Rep. Bill Cadman is term limited next year, and is widely expected to ascend uninterrupted and replace Sen. Ron May, who is also term-limited.
One source says that Bruce – who does not respond to interview requests from this reporter – has indicated he won’t announce his intentions until after this year’s Nov. 6 election. Meanwhile, rumors have also been swirling that May may retire early, which could set off a chain of events that leave flat-footed elephants in a Republican stronghold with no other viable candidate save Bruce.
House District 15, in east-central Colorado Springs, is a district with a more than 2-1 ratio of registered Republicans to Democrats. Indeed, in 2006, there were 24,686 registered Republicans, 9,828 registered Democrats and 16,308 unaffiliated voters in the district.
When Allison Hunter, the president of El Paso County Democrats, attempted to challenge the incumbent Cadman last year, he creamed her 67 percent to 33 percent. But Hunter, who has been registered as a candidate for 2008 for six months, says she plans to run against … “whoever they can dig up.”
“As for [Douglas] Bruce running, I welcome the challenge,” Hunter says. “As a matter of fact with a Republican candidate like Bruce who is so controversial – even within his own party – maybe Republicans will look deeper than voting a straight “R” ticket.
“The stakes and risks are high with Bruce, and just maybe the Democratic candidate, myself, will get a more fair look, and possibly even some ‘R’ votes. Just a thought.”
Indeed, Hunter already has a candidate Website at allisonhunter.org, where she identifies two issues of particular interest as education and health care.
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org