State Sen. Gail Schwartz, a Snowmass Democrat whose narrow win in November saw what some deemed the “most tasteless” mailers of the campaign, now finds herself in the middle of the ugliest incident of the young legislative session. State Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, was banned Friday from the Senate chamber for accosting Schwartz there on Wednesday.
“This morning Rep. Balmer came to my office to apologize for his conduct on the Senate floor when he confronted Sen. Schwartz,” Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, said in a prepared statement Friday. “Mr. Balmer’s behavior was unacceptable, and for that reason I have revoked his privilege to enter the Senate chamber for the remainder of the legislative session.
“At my request Rep. Balmer will apologize publicly in the House chamber at his first convenience. The Senate chamber must be a sanctuary for the exchange of ideas in an atmosphere free of intimidation. I will not tolerate a breech in decorum. We have real work to do for the people of Colorado.”
Schwartz has decried the increasing lack of civility in state elections and has called for stiffer penalties against outside groups seeking to unduly influence voters with questionable campaign materials. She called imposing stiffer penalties one of her top legislative priorities this session.
The Balmer incident reportedly flared up over the moving of a public redistricting hearing from Glenwood Springs to Grand Junction. Schwartz called Balmer’s behavior “inappropriate,” and a Senate sergeant-at-arms asked Balmer to leave due to his aggressive behavior.