Mark Waller understands how difficult and frustrating it can be, running against an icon of the local political scene.
Everybody thinks of him as Douglas Bruce's opponent not Mark Waller, the D-15 candidate.
But that's OK, because his chances of winning really do depend more on people being sick of Bruce than excited about Waller.
To be totally honest, there are some reasons to respect Bruce: He's smart and crafty. He's devoted to his causes. He's incredibly knowledgeable about Colorado's constitution and laws. And he knows how to play to his political base of support.
Bruce's fatal flaw as a politician, though, is his strange combination of pure meanness and immeasurable ego. Not to mention his mastery at distorting the truth. He never works with anybody; they must try to coexist on his terms.
That prevents him from forging the friendships and alliances that are crucial no, vital to being an effective state representative in Denver and providing any kind of needed constituent services. Instead, Bruce already has alienated himself from both sides, rendering himself worthless at the Capitol.
- Mark Waller
Bruce's behavior after being appointed to the District 15 seat also turned off many inside the party, including some longtime supporters.
It didn't help, either, that Bruce was using past endorsements on his Web site, portraying them as endorsements for this 2008 race when in fact more than a few of them were four years old. Bruce did make a revision when called on it, leaving the names online but referring to them as simply having supported or praised him during his years of public service. But we still think Bruce is being deceptive.
Waller, meanwhile, has pounded the pavement to drum up grassroots support across District 15 in east and northeast Colorado Springs.
He's also had little trouble finding backers among the county's GOP leadership, including former state Sen. Ron May. That's in part because Waller is a full-fledged conservative who agrees with many of Bruce's stances, including support for the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
- Douglas Bruce
Waller does get a large black mark for refusing to debate Bruce. He says he wouldn't be able to make his case, and that nobody would be able to control Bruce. That might be true, but in that case, clear-headed voters very well might be swayed more to Waller. It's too bad he doesn't want to take that chance.
All else aside, Waller would not be as acerbic or embarrassing as Bruce. And the chance for a high turnout, influenced by the congressional and district attorney races, could help Waller pull it off.
That would leave us with a refreshing race for November: Waller against Democrat Michelle Maksimowicz. Republicans comprise a little more than 47 percent of D-15's 52,095 registered voters, to 20 percent Democrats and 33 percent unaffiliated. But numbers aside, these two would have plenty to debate, and meanness wouldn't be a factor.
In this primary, we have to recommend Mark Waller. He even has a sense of humor. And, though he'd prefer that we not put it this way, it's still true: He's not Douglas Bruce.