With all the GOP naval gazing and talk of reform, it’s time now to ask that perennial question: Will Douglas Bruce, the soon-to-be-erstwhile state lawmaker helping to oversee a government he wants to dismantle, successfully shape-shift his way back on top? Or is it time to stick a fork in him? Not surprisingly, it depends on who is asked.
Less than a year ago, longtime Bruce supporter and former Colorado Senate President John Andrews was crowing over the spectacle of watching his man in action in the Colorado Capitol. At the time, Bruce had just been appointed to fill out the term of then-state Rep. Bill Cadman, who had been appointed to fill out a vacant state Senate seat. The times, wrote Andrews, who left the Senate in 2004, “call for the telling of hard truths.” And Mr. Bruce, he claimed, was just the man.
“Mr. Bruce, while he’s no cuddly Sudanese teddy bear, is one of the few who can and will take on that thankless role,” Andrews wrote.
“Douglas Bruce in the Colorado House of Representatives is going to be quite a spectacle, no doubt about it. Stay tuned for the fireworks when he takes his seat and the session opens next month. Barefoot opponents won’t be the half of it.
“You can expect Rep. Bruce to proclaim at every opportunity that the left-liberal emperor has no clothes at all — bare naked yet shameless about it. If we want to revive the constitution and save the Republic, somebody has to say that. I believe Doug is just the man.”
Bruce went on to the Golden Dome, where he kicked a photographer the first day, got censored by his colleagues, refused to honor veterans, called Mexican immigrants “peasants” and engaged in all sorts of other activities that proved an embarrassment to his party.
Then, the cantankerous author of Colorado’s 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights went on to lose the primary in August to Mark Waller, a social and fiscal conservative and Air Force reservist officer whom Bruce attacked with derogatory fliers for not voting in a past election because at the time Waller was, um, serving in Iraq.
Last week two of Bruce’s pet ballot measures in Colorado Springs also failed –- including one that would have eliminated the city’s storm-water tax and another that would have eliminated funds that city-owned enterprises currently pay to city hall. In a post-election piece, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Bruce blamed losing his House seat on the fact that he campaigned so hard for the losing ballot measures.
In truth, though, the lawsuit-loving Bruce hasn’t truly been on the winning side of a measure since Colorado voters passed TABOR 16 years ago.
Still, high-profile Republicans are split as to whether — even in this new era that may signal an era of lightness and goodness in the GOP — Bruce will sail gracefully into the dark night.
“So long as he continues to place things on the ballot and force people to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to at the very least defeat them, he is going to have some influence,” the Gazette quoted state Rep. Bob Gardner, a Colorado Springs Republican, saying.
Colorado Springs City Councilman Scott Hente had a different take:
“At some point, I think Mr. Bruce has to realize that the community is rejecting him and his ideas,” Hente, also a Republican, said.
As for Rep. Bruce, whose one-year stint in public office ends in January when newly elected Rep. Waller heads to Denver, well, Bruce hasn’t updated his Web site lately. Indeed, this is the beginning of the current message posted at DouglasBruce.com:
“I am honored to have been chosen to be your House District 15 state representative. I have lived in House District 15 for 22 years and have served as your county commissioner, a precinct committeeman, county and state assembly delegate, and party activist. I am a pro-life, traditional family values, social and fiscal conservative — a Ronald Reagan Republican. …”
Someone better break the news to Bruce, soon.