by Alicia Long
Douglas Bruce, the Colorado Springs Republican and author of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), and El Paso County Commissioner-turned state representative, has had an interesting year. In this post I chronicle his descension from representative to his failed Primary bid in August for HD-15.
In December 2007, Bruce won an appointment to fill a vacancy in HD-15 left by Representative Cadman, who went on to the state Senate after the retirement of Senator Ron May. From the get-go, his appointment had people quivering in their boots. From the Denver Post:
Surely, the best news Colorado Democrats have heard in a while was the reappearance of conservative über-villain Doug Bruce…
It’s not all negative for the Right, I admit. On entertainment value alone, throwing the vitriolic Bruce into a mix — where he can go toe to toe with equally nasty folks like, say, Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs — should provide for some wonderful melees.
In the end, though, constituents will witness a huge waste of time.
Bruce wasted no time angering both Republicans and Democrats that week by saying that he would not be sworn into the legislature until January 14, although the session was to start on January 9. This blatantly political move would allow Bruce to be eligible to serve a full four terms beyond the partial term under Colorado’s term limits rules. This abuse of the rules led the legislature that session to pass a law stating that people elected to vacant seats must be sworn in within two weeks. Speaker Andrew Romanoff punished him by only letting him introduce 4 bills, when typically a legislator has a limit of 5 bills they can author.
Do you think this controversy would shut Bruce up for the rest of the session? Do you think he’d just get to work and let things settle? I’ll give you time to think….
And a headline from the day Bruce was sworn in says it all: “Bruce kicks photographer, takes oath.”
Bruce said he became frustrated as photographers from The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News were crouched at his feet as he bowed his head in prayer. He asked them not to take his picture and kicked the Rocky photographer, Javier Manzano, in the knee when he did…“Don’t do that again,” Bruce seethed, then brought down the sole of his shoe hard on the photographer’s bent knee.
Bruce offered no explanation or apology as the photographer left.
The best part of this…. Bruce demanded an APOLOGY FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER!
All this after Bruce wanted to be sworn into office in front of the full House, although protocol is that vacancies are sworn in in a private ceremony in empty chambers. Bruce threw a temper tantrum earlier that week when Speaker Romanoff refused to give in to Bruce’s request. Rep. Mike May stated that Bruce needs to understand that “This is the House Of Representatives, not the House of Bruce.”
On January 24, 2008, Doug Bruce became the first member of the Colorado legislature to get censured for his behavior toward the photographer. Way to go Bruce!
In February, Bruce again made headlines by being the only representative to refuse to cosponsor a Joint House-Senate resolution honoring Military and Veterans Appreciation Day. This brought angry comments from house leadership from both parties. Bruce would not offer an explanation as to why he made this choice. This ultimately got him sacked from his position on the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee:
“I no longer believe it is in the best interest of the House nor for the active-duty or retired military personnel of Colorado to have Representative Bruce continue to serve on the committee of reference for veterans and military affairs,” House Republican Leader Mike May, R-Parker, said in a statement.
In April came, arguably, Doug Bruce’s biggest blunder of the session. While speaking at the podium during debate on a farm worker bill, Bruce called Mexican immigrants “illiterate peasants.”
From the RMN:
Rep. Douglas Bruce was cut off from House debate on a bill for a pilot foreign farm-worker program today after saying Colorado doesn’t need “5,000 more illiterate peasants.””How dare you,” said Rep. Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, who was chairing the floor debate. She ordered Bruce to leave the speaker’s podium.
All of this an more had led to Bruce’s ultimately failed bid for reelection to his HD-15 seat. In the Republican primary, he had strong challenger, Iraq War vet Mark Waller. This was one of the nastier primary fights we’ve seen this year, mostly because Bruce and Waller pulled no punches. What became the most successful argument against Bruce was that he refused to co-sponsor the resolution honoring Military and Veterans Appreciation Day (remember that debacle?). This became the final nail in the coffin of Doug Bruce.
Waller has one obscure Democratic challenger, Michelle Maskimowicz, who doesn’t have a chance in this district. Say goodbye to the reign of Bruce and hello to Representative Waller.