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The dark lord (Doug Bruce) returneth

City Sage

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Douglas Bruce’s so-called “reform team” would have a much better of being elected had they chosen to run as individuals, rather than as satellites of the Dougster. While it’s never a bad idea to stress your conservative credentials to the Colorado Springs electorate, Bruce’s previous forays in elected office have been unmitigated disasters.

Right now, it’s highly doubtful that he could prevail in a Republican primary, which concentrates the most conservative voters in this, the state’s most conservative city. What makes him think that he can succeed in a citywide election?

The answer’s simple. Voters can select five at-large candidates. Bruce’s name recognition will get him a lot of ballots, and probable election. Leading his reform slate will give him even more credibility, but that doesn’t mean his acolytes will benefit.

With the exception of Ed Bircham, they’re political neophytes. That’s OK, but tying yourself to Bruce’s apron strings makes it impossible to create your own identity.

Haven’t any of them followed his recent career? Haven’t they noticed that he’s the Ralph Nader of the right — respected, feared and despised? Haven’t they noticed that elected conservatives in El Paso County are usually folks like Wayne Williams, Jim Bensberg, John Suthers, Terry Maketa and Amy Stephens — cautious, sensible, and pragmatic?

In a non-partisan election, folks tend to vote for individuals, not groups. Endorsements don’t mean much, unless they bring money and credibility (e.g., the HBA, Realtors, Chamber).

Being embraced by all three of those groups puts any candidate in good shape, but to embrace the Dougster is to submit to the vampire’s kiss. It may help the vampire, but it’s not in your best interest.

The group’s website (reformcityhall.com) is full of the usual Bruceian bluster. It’s a mixture of irrelevant factoids; misleading, selectively truthy statements (“City Hall has punished voters since we rejected its 234% city property tax hike in 2009”); and unrelenting opposition to almost everything that the city has done, or taxpayers have approved, since the Dougster arrived on the scene a quarter-century ago.

An example of “wasteful spending,” found on the website: “City Hall pawned for $7.2 million; the interest cost is $5 million.”

Elsewhere, a 1999 screed opposing the SCIP bond issue (which passed easily) blasts the city for spending big bucks to rent office space.

In fact, the city “pawned” the then-boarded up City Hall in order to renovate, restore and expand that long-unused structure. The project was financed by Certificates of Participation (COPs), and both returned one of the city’s grandest buildings to public use and saved the city money.

Mayoral candidate Buddy Gilmore, hardly a liberal, announced last week on a Facebook post that he’d oppose Bruce’s efforts to shut down the Southern Delivery System, the reform group’s signature issue.

Other candidates for mayor and Council are likely to follow suit. Given Bruce’s performance in the Legislature and as a county commissioner, it’s hard to believe that anyone would want to share the Council dais with the Dougster for the next four years.

The business community is, it’s fair to say, in full panic mode over the fearsome five. We can expect to see a powerful, well-financed, and sophisticated campaign aimed at discrediting Bruce and his his new BFFs.

But give the Dougster his due. After the titanically embarrassing defeat of amendments 60 and 61 and issue 101 last November, he’s baack!!!

Never mind that his largely self-funded nonprofit, Active Citizens Together, blew half a million bucks supporting those three turkeys. Never mind that he spent months dodging process servers, as opponents of the measures sought to prove that he was behind them.

Never mind that his reputation had so diminished since the heady days of TABOR’s approval in 1992 that he denied any involvement, even when the Gazette blew his cover. None of that matters.

The Dark Lord is back, and ready to ascend the throne of Mordor.

— hazlehurst@csindy.com

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