UPDATE: Are tax-loving Republicans ready for their punishment? Douglas Bruce announced on Monday he indeed is vying to replace District 15 Rep. Bill Cadman in the state House of Representatives. Or as Bruce said, during a Monday press conference, “The Republican Party has lost its way. That’s the political reality, and until those people are exposed, punished, removed from office and replaced by true Republicans … that will be the current reality.” After months of speculation, State Sen. Ron May has announced he is quitting early – setting in motion a series of events that could result in Rep. Bill Cadman filling May’s open seat and paving the way Douglas Bruce, inarguably the most cantankerous political figure in the state, ending up in the Colorado House of Representatives next year.
May, who is in his seventh year as a state senator, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday. However, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that on Thursday the senator faxed his letter of resignation, effective Oct. 31, to Secretary of State Mike Coffman.
The Gazette reported that May, 73, who was in the House of Representatives before serving in the Senate, is “leaving to pursue job opportunities that would not be available if he were to wait to leave office next year. He said that he has also grown tired of some of the recent financial restrictions placed on legislators and that he hopes to continue to work with state government from the private sector,” the newspaper reported.
“I think I have made a pretty good mark and a pretty good record in what I’ve done,” May said. “I’ve always had the theory that I get more done by working with departments than working by bills.”
May, representing the conservative district that encompasses much of eastern Colorado Springs, particularly focused on transportation and technology issues. He is also the state chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Two months ago May refused to respond to questions over how a group of Colorado lawmakers traveled to ALEC’s annual convention in Philadelphia in the wake of Amendment 41 – Colorado’s Ethics in Government law that voters approved last year.
Last month, Colorado Confidential reported the rumor of May’s impending departure, a year before being forced out by term limits. At the time, many moderate Republicans were chilled at the prospect of the potential chain of events: Cadman, currently a state representative, would ascend to the senate, and Bruce, who is currently a county commissioner, would glean enough support from the county vacancy committee to replace Cadman.
When asked for his take on the prospect of Bruce at the capitol, Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff joked that Bruce says he “has a lot of ideas,” and Romanoff says he’s “all ears.”
“If it comes to pass, we would welcome [Bruce] into the House,” Romanoff said. “I’m hoping it would be televised – people would really benefit from the coverage.”
Since he was first propelled onto the statewide stage back in 1992, after Colorado voters approved his tax and spending limitation Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Bruce has grown famous for his barbs — which have included calling various officials everything from “cockroaches” to “dim bulbs” to “biased and prejudiced,” “armchair critics who don’t know squat” and even “pathological liars.”
Cadman, who is also a conservative Republican, is currently serving his fourth term in the House. The Colorado Springs representative is quite possibly best known for a 2005 incident in which he engaged in a high profile exchange with then-Rep. Val Vigil on the floor of the House.
Specifically, Vigil, a Democrat from Denver, had introduced a bill to allow the families of dead soldiers to obtain special military license plates. Cadman didn’t like the bill and called it “garbage.” Vigil responded by calling Cadman “garbage.” Cadman then said, “if you try that again, I’ll ram my fist up your ass.”
At first unrepentant, Cadman’s name became synonymous with gay sex, and he picked up a new nickname, “The Fister.” Bloggers urged readers to send Cadman a care package of ultra-glide lube with a note warning him of the dangers of high-risk behavior. Rubber gloves were spotted around the capitol. Even the Rocky Mountain News issued an editorial, chastising Cadman as “a sanctimonious loose cannon — someone to whom it might be wise to give a wide berth.”
“What is shocking is not only Cadman’s reluctance to express regret but the fact that he wasn’t absolutely mortified by what he’d stooped to say,” the News opined. “It would never occur to most people to use such an expression even in private, no matter how incensed they were over an affront, let alone utter such words in public before other elected officials.”
Aside from Cadman, no other potential candidate has emerged as a possible replacement for May in the Senate.
According to Friday’s Colorado Springs Gazette, Reginald Perry, a past unsuccessful candidate for the District 11 school board, also may be interested in Cadman’s House seat. (Douglas Bruce has previously indicated he would make his own plans known after this November’s election.)
Vacancy committees are expected to fill both May and Cadman’s seats by the end of November.
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