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Outsider

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Ran into G reporter Pam Zubeck at a recent candidate forum, who twitted me for calling the current political season "uninteresting." What about Doug Bruce! Ron May! Betty Beedy! Decapitated rabbits! Poisoned dogs!

And although the daily has loftily ignored the last two controversies (candidate claims of nasty and heartless misdeeds by their enemies), Pam's got a point.

The campaigns are a lot of fun to watch and write about. Far more so than a serious debate over, say, Intel's impact on city water consumption, or why the powers-that-be have banded together with local do-gooders to drive the homeless out of downtown and into a new shelter.

That stuff is boring, uncomfortable and divisive. Far better to be entertained by the current crop of wanna-be pols than to deal with actual issues.

After all, the most important parts of government are usually the most difficult to understand. The very language that insiders use to describe governmental functions is often obscure and difficult.

Take, for example, the phrase "mill levy." Insiders know that the mill levy determines how much property tax you pay in a given jurisdiction, but to most of us it's just as incomprehensible as the meaning of "http" on a Web address (Hypertext Transfer Protocol, of course).

Such murky language further distances people from government and makes it even easier for eccentric predators such as Doug Bruce to implement their loony ideas.

And may we admit to a certain sour satisfaction that the official news media have finally figured out something that this column brought up a few weeks ago: The Dougster's Taxcut 2000 initiative will, if it passes in November, eliminate scores, even hundreds of taxes within a few years.

Folks, this is not some piddling little $25 tax cut for the little guy: this is a clever and diabolical scheme from Doug's own heart of darkness. His long crusade will have finally succeeded; he'll have taken government, driven a stake through its heart and buried it at a crossroads at midnight.

So if you disapprove of marginal and irrelevant government services such as libraries and rural fire protection, vote for it. And if you believe Doug's assertion that a crippled and heavily indebted state government is somehow going to replace this lost revenue, vote for it.

And if you believe that our wasteful state has spent far too much on transportation, education, and law enforcement, vote for it. And if you want to shut down growth, and keep those pesky out-of-state employers from moving here, vote for it.

Returning to the candidate forum ... As a connoisseur of such dog and pony shows, I've rarely seen its equal. There was the Dougster himself, solicitously ushering Betty Beedy to her place on the stage. And there was the usual assortment of superannuated GOP hopefuls, spouting the absurd paleoconservative dogma that El Paso County Republicans memorize in third grade, never to forget.

As the candidates answered questions from the audience, one seasoned political observer (who shall remain nameless) suggested a mildly impertinent question for 'em: When did you last have sex? Personally, I would have preferred to ask when they last read a book. Honestly answered, each question would have gotten the same response: "I know I've done it, but I can't quite remember the last time."

But looking at the Republican primaries, and speculating about possible outcomes, it may be that the right wing of the GOP has managed to accomplish what every liberal in the County has vainly attempted to do for the last 25 years; revive the Democratic Party.

Consider the possibilities. If Doug Bruce, (Senate District 10), Rich Brenner (Commissioner District 3), and Dave Schultheis (House District 22) win their respective primaries, the Republican party is unlikely to close ranks and support their anointed candidates.

Beloved by the wacko right, Bruce is so loathed by the rest of the party that they'd do anything to defeat him, even vote for a (Choke! Gasp!) Democrat. Outgoing District 22 Rep. Marcy Morrison's legions would love to put the knife into Schultheis, and Democrat Michael Merrifield is a competent and experienced alternative.

As for Rich Brenner, I can't imagine that Chuck Brown, Bob Isaac, and the voters in the city's core would hand over control of the County to Betty Beedy -- they'll be supporting the Democrat. And in House District 17, Democrat Ed Raye, whose campaign is directed by the formidable Annie Oatman-Gardner (remember TOPS?), has a real shot in November.

So who knows? Will the Dems emerge, Lazarus-like, from the ash heap of history? Will Darth -- I mean Doug -- prevail? Is that a pentagram at the intersection of Pikes Peak and Tejon streets?

Ask Harry Potter.

-- johnhazlehurst@aol.com

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