Wayne Williams was just heading out on a business trip to Boston when he got the call that Doug Dean's name and face were plastered all over the papers, alongside a weird mini-drama. Dean's lobbyist girlfriend had dumped him and left his stuff out on the front lawn, the speaker of Colorado's House of Representatives had broken into her home with a screwdriver, scared her and then chased her down the street to a neighbor's, where she called the police.
With Dean's blessing, Williams, former chairman of the local Republican Party, plans to succeed Dean in office and battle the moral decay of our times when the speaker is term-limited next year. No one else has so far emerged as a candidate. The irony, of course, is that Dean represents House District 18, in northeastern Colorado Springs, a district that is, even by Colorado Springs standards, exceedingly socially conservative.
When the story broke, Williams immediately put a call into Dean and, this week, contacted by the Independent, weighed in on his friend's troubles. Here's what was said:
Indy: How was Doug Dean when you talked to him? Angry? Regretful? Was he crying?
Wayne: I don't know. I think it was an emotional time. I think in retrospect he recognizes there was an error in judgment.
Indy: Could you ever see yourself making a mistake of that magnitude?
Wayne: I would not anticipate that specific incident would ever happen to me. I have never chased [my wife] with a screwdriver, or pliers. But have I ever done anything that was imperfect? Sure.
Indy: So what was it?
Wayne: That's not information I care to disclose -- but there was at least once when I went over the speed limit.
Indy: OK. So is exceeding the speed limit as serious as, say, breaking into your ex-girlfriend's house with a screwdriver, surprising her and then chasing her down the street at 1 o'clock in the morning?
Wayne: Um, in the sense that going over the speed limit is a violation of the law, and in Doug's case the police determined that nothing illegal occurred.
Indy: So are you saying that exceeding the speed limit is actually more serious than what Speaker Dean did?
Indy: Will you date lobbyists if you get elected?
Wayne: I plan to continue to date my wife. I like my current wife.
Indy: So will you move to Denver and get taxpayers to support your living expenses, like Doug Dean has?
Wayne: No. I live in the same house I've lived in for nine years but I might move a little closer to the kids' school.
Indy: Has Doug Dean endorsed your candidacy?
Wayne: Yes, he hopes I do succeed him.
Indy: Are you going to actually tell people you've been endorsed by Doug Dean?
Wayne: I haven't made the decision yet whether to play up the endorsement.
So that's that. Here's betting that next year in Focus on the Family-land, we won't be seeing any brochures featuring a happy Wayne Williams gladhanding a cheery-looking Doug Dean.
The Fremont County Democratic Party wasted no time in seizing on Vermont Sen. James Jeffords' defection from the Republican Party last week and giving it a Colorado spin. In a press release issued May 25, the Dems pointed out that the power shift in Washington means a significant reduction in influence for Colorado. Since Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched parties in the mid-1990s, both senators from Colorado have been Republicans, enabling a feast-or-famine attitude that is simply bad policy, said Democratic activist Betty Walker. "If one of Colorado's senators were a Democrat, as has historically been the case, Colorado's influence in Washington would not have declined so dramatically in such a short time," she said.
Of course, the Fremont County Dems have a solution, which is to dump U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, who they claim is out of touch with the average Coloradan and who is up for re-election next year. Sounds OK so far -- but who would replace Allard? Denver Mayor Wellington Webb is interested, so is high-powered Denver corporate attorney Tom Strickland, who lost to Allard five years ago and wants a rematch. Mark Udall is reportedly not content just being a congressman from Boulder -- he wants more. And Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar wants higher office so badly you can smell it every time he sends out a press release boasting his greatness.
Are any of these guys more in touch with the average Coloradan than Wayne Allard? Tough call, but one thing's for sure: The days when Democratic Senators Tim Wirth and Gary Hart set Colorado's political agenda are, sadly, long gone.