Redistricting can be heck on a guy. Just ask Bill Guman. In March, shortly before being term-limited out of office after eight years on the nonpartisan Colorado Springs City Council, Guman announced his intention to run on the Republican ticket for county commissioner next year.
Guman has already distributed fliers and bumper stickers. He has a campaign Web site (www.billguman.com). And he has met with Republican leaders, including former local GOP chairman Wayne Williams, seeking advice about his candidacy.
Speaking of Williams, back in July 2000 (you read it here first!), he confirmed his own plans to be the crowned successor of Speaker of the House Doug Dean when Dean, first elected on a family values platform, is term-limited next year.
Dean -- whose legacy will not be marked by his oratory or any piece of impressive legislation, but for breaking into his lobbyist girlfriend's house in the middle of the night with a screwdriver and then chasing her down the street -- represents District 18. That district, in northeast Colorado Springs, is one of the most conservative in an already-conservative city, and Williams, who has never held public office but really, really, really wants to, was all but assured of a shoo-in.
The deal evaporated when, during this year's statewide redistricting efforts, District 18 was geographically moved, further south. Poof! Just like that, Williams' dream of dancing with lobbyists disappeared.
So he started looking around for something else to run for and, you guessed it, seized on the prospect of county commissioner. After all, that elite, five-member club, that bastion of Republicanism, pays a tidy $63,202 a year -- plus health, dental, mileage and other benefits -- and is generally reserved as sort of a reward for devoted GOP activists.
Williams, who served as county GOP chairman from 1997 to 1999, hasn't formally declared his candidacy -- he plans to announce next month, he says. But he has already called in his chits, and says he already has support from three of the four other sitting commissioners (excluding -- at least so far -- Chuck Brown and including Duncan Bremer, who currently holds the seat and whom Williams and his wife Holly Williams worked hard to help elect). In addition, the not-yet-announced candidate says he has already secured promised support from the three Republican state legislators that represent portions of the commissioner district, in the northwest quadrant of El Paso County.
Williams, an employment lawyer by trade, has already conducted some opposition research and this week suggested Guman is not Republican enough to hold the seat. (Guman reportedly did not vote in either Bill Owens' or George Bush's primaries -- gasp!) In addition, Williams cites an April 11, 1997 article in the Woodmen Edition community newspaper in which Guman warned that the county GOP had been taken over by ultraconservatives and threatened to drop his affiliation with the Republican Party (which he did not do).
Guman is not amused. As recently as August, the two, on friendly terms, met to talk about Guman's candidacy. Williams was even kind enough, Guman says, to give him some pointers.
"Talk about being blindsided," Guman said of Williams' subsequent entrance. "He doesn't care what he's elected to, he just wants to get elected to something."
Last week, Guman responded with a letter to Republican precinct leaders denouncing Williams' maneuvering. "I've spoken to people who are tight with the Party, and Williams' tactics are not really looked upon favorably; when you pick something, you stick to it."
In his communiqu, Guman, a landscape architect, noted his own extensive experience, including making utilities-related and land-use decisions, underscored Williams' lack thereof and accused his likely opponent of waffling.
"El Paso County needs a qualified District 1 County Commissioner who can enter running, not someone who'll need time simply to learn the ropes, let alone someone who couldn't even make up his mind for which office to run in the first place!"
For his part, Williams expressed disappointment that Guman would attack him before he's even officially entered the race. And he staunchly denies being a waffler. "I'm a pancake man," he insists.