Amid an enthusiastic crowd of party activists, Mark Waller, the Republican who is challenging beleaguered state Rep. Douglas Bruce, captured more votes at El Paso County’s GOP assembly this morning, giving Waller top line ballot placement. Bruce, the high-profile author of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights who was appointed to fill out a vacancy in Colorado Springs’ House District 15 just three months ago, received 43 percent of the votes cast by about 245 assembly-goers from HD15, which includes much of central-east Colorado Springs. Waller, an attorney and political newcomer, received 57 percent of the vote, according to an attendee and Waller supporter.
The source, who asked not to be identified, estimated that about 20 supporters joined Waller on stage, including Colorado Springs state Reps. Larry Liston and Bob Gardner, who gave a speech supporting Bruce’s challenger.
The controversial Bruce, whose foray into the state capitol in January launched with a kick to the knee of a newspaper photographer and who was subsequent censured by his House colleagues, took the stage alone. During today’s stump speech, Bruce included a quip joking that his parole officer had allowed him to show up to the well-attended event, at the Phil Long Expo Center in northern Colorado Springs, with an ankle bracelet. He also brought a bucket of candy to hand out to assembly-goers.
“I did not receive any [candy] because I was wearing a Waller button,” the source said, when asked what type of treats were being handed out.
“[Bruce’s] number one campaign promise is ‘I will always tell the truth’, ” the source said. “Number two: ‘I will always respond to your correspondence and keep you informed.’ Number three: ‘I will never raise your taxes.’
“And that is a zero agenda,” opined the Waller supporter. “Why don’t you just promise to always show up dressed every day? It’s that fundamental.”
In an interview with Colorado Confidential earlier this week, Waller described himself as a fiscal and social conservative, but emphasized the need to “be able to communicate – we have to be able to get along with the other side.”
“We’re all fiscally and socially conservative here in El Paso County, but what it boils down to is being able to effectively communicate those ideas and those ideals and values,” he said.
The House District 15 vote was the first order of business today at the Republican assembly in one of Colorado’s most conservative strongholds. Fourth Judicial District Attorney John Newsome announced the results.
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at The Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at email@example.com