So an elected member of the Colorado House can lose a committee assignment for declining to co-sponsor a resolution his leadership and fellow party members happen to like? This sounds more like Marxist re-education than open government, American style. Yet it's exactly what befell Rep. Douglas Bruce (R-Colorado Springs) last week after voting for, but then not also sponsoring, a non-binding resolution of thanks to our armed forces and veterans. While I disagree with Bruce's action, and have seen little evidence in his first month as a legislator to bear out my previous hopes for him as a beneficial truth-teller under the golden dome, I'm concerned the tit-for-tat feud between him and House Minority Leader Mike May is becoming a net minus for GOP goals and the General Assembly's good name.
After the demotion last Thursday, Republicans in both the House and Senate commented to me they worry that May has let this become way too personal. And it could backfire politically.
Left to stew in his own juices, Rep. Bruce could very well alienate hometown voters to the point where he loses the August primary and passes from the legislative scene after a single, stormy session. But the more he is able to portray himself as a martyr persecuted by the party establishment and press, the better his chances of surviving this election cycle and returning to bedevil the body for another two years. That's the risk implicit in the minority leader's draconian punishment for Bruce's resolution peccadillo.
"Keep your eye on the main chance and don't stop to kick every barking dog," advises conservative wiseman Morton Blackwell in his classic, 45-point outline, "Laws of the Public Policy Process." I kept that parchment on my office wall when I was a Senate leader, and a current senator reminded me of it apropos the May-Bruce dustup. While the reference to kicking is purely coincidental, it may be good advice for Mr. TABOR's colleagues right now. If attention is oxygen to him, why furnish more of it?