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Our dirty little secret

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The news last week whip-sawed through local Republican circles faster than you can repeat that Senate campaign motto from years ago: "Ron May, but Bruce Will."

State Sen. Ron May, according to the rumor, had resigned a year early. State Rep. Bill Cadman was going to replace him. And that meant there was only one person poised to replace Cadman. That's right: Douglas Bruce.

The gossip is not new; we reported on this particular round of the "Ascendancy of the Lawmakers" weeks ago. It turned out not to have happened at least not this time. But the possibility of the legendary King of Mean walking right into the state Legislature brought on new urgency last week. Local party leaders, some speaking on the condition of anonymity, noted that, should Sen. May actually resign early, and Cadman take his place (as he's expected to do in 2008, anyway), no candidate aside from Bruce has emerged to replace Cadman.

Also, Bruce who has a longstanding policy of not speaking to this columnist allegedly has the vacancy committee stacked with his supporters. The lack of another viable candidate in the central/eastern El Paso County district has caught moderate, even rationally conservative Republicans, flat-footed, notes City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher.

"A potential disaster," is how another local GOP leader puts it.

"This just makes my skin crawl," says yet another.

It's one thing to have Bruce serving as an El Paso County commissioner, haranguing and belittling his colleagues to the point where everyone's eyeballs are rattling in their sockets.It's entirely another matter to send this creature to Denver, where he would represent not only El Paso County but the Republican Party itself and possibly on live television.

Recently, Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, sounded particularly mirthful about the possibility. Bruce says he "has a lot of ideas," and Romanoff says he's "all ears."

"He hasn't asked for an endorsement from me, and I don't want to jeopardize his candidacy with an endorsement," Romanoff says. "If it comes to pass, we would welcome [Bruce] into the House. I'm hoping it would be televised people would really benefit from the coverage."

Bruce was first propelled onto the statewide stage back in 1992, after Colorado voters approved his Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. When the self-avowed anti-government terrorist showed up and started uttering nasty quips, the press ate it up. According to Bruce, various officials were "cockroaches," "dim bulbs," "biased and prejudiced," "armchair critics who don't know squat" and even "pathological liars."

He referred to former Secretary of State Natalie Meyer as "the most corrupt politician west of Chicago ... the secretary of sleaze." He accused retired District Judge Matt Railey of being "intellectually dishonest." He called the grassroots watchdog group Balance Colorado "a bunch of obscure soreheads."

The League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region? According to Bruce, this group is "obviously functionally illiterate in terms of constitutional principles."

When the city of Northglenn engaged in a court battle with Bruce over TABOR, he said, "Every time they poke us with a needle, we're going to hit them over the head with a sledgehammer. We're going to pound them into the ground so far, they're going to have to learn how to speak Mandarin."

Of his own supporters, Bruce has said, "The reality is, people are just lazy. I gave people the chance to be responsible, and their response was, "We'd rather watch TV.'"

Over the past decade, Bruce has faded from the statewide stage. But have no doubt: The press, and the Democrats, would be happy to have him back.

As for his Republican Party, this is what county GOP executive director Nathan Fisk had to say in the midst of last week's rumors: Yes, Bruce has been asked by party leadership whether he plans to run. No, he hasn't indicated his intent.

"He has been asked that, and he has remained silent," Fisk said.

He added: "There are lots of good Republicans who have been in that district for a long time. There are any number of people who may run for that seat."

But nobody seems to know who they are.

degette@csindy.com

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