Null takes on Bruce 

Anti-tax crusader ready to move into big office -- never mind the election

click to enlarge Douglas Bruce
  • Douglas Bruce

County CommissionerDistrict 2

Douglas Bruce has a lot of gall, his opponents say.

After winning the Republican primary for El Paso county commissioner, he began inquiring about desk space in the commissioners' office -- even though he has yet to defeat three other candidates in the upcoming election.

Bruce doesn't understand why there's such a fuss over the fact that he has already asked for the biggest office.

"I didn't cost anybody anything by asking," Bruce said. "If the implication is that I'm taking the election for granted and that's being presumptuous or whatever, all I did was ask."

His opponents, Democrat Stanley Hildahl and write-in Republicans Bob Null and Jim Day, weren't surprised by Bruce's inquiry, given the brazen reputation of the opinionated Bruce, who is best known for authoring the 1992 Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

The candidates are vying to represent District 2, one of three seats up for grabs Nov. 2 on the five-seat county board.

A lifelong Republican, Null notes just a slim margin of Republicans -- 53 percent -- voted for Bruce in the August primary. Null, a former Air Force officer who now owns and runs a local Internet service company, had backed the campaign of primary challenger, City Councilwoman Margaret Radford. He wasn't alone; a long list of developers, realtors, lawyers and other interests anted up more than $55,000 for Radford's campaign. Compare this to Bruce who has so far plunked down $50,000 of his own money.

With Bruce seeking to sell "surplus" county properties, such as the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs, Null says the onetime Democrat comes off more like a Libertarian.

"I'm going to challenge him," Null said. "Fess up. Are you a Republican?"

Null says he's hoping Republicans, independents and Democrats will scrawl his name in the ballot's write-in blank space. The self-described fiscal conservative who supports the notion that tax increases should be voter-approved is running a campaign to retain high-quality safety and public health, protect the Second Amendment and keep government open and accountable.

"It should be government of the people, for the people by the people and not of Doug Bruce, for Doug Bruce and by Doug Bruce," Null said.

Democrat Hildahl is running a modest campaign in the heavily Republican district that includes eastern El Paso County and eastern Colorado Springs. He noted some Republicans are "ABB" or "Anyone But Bruce," and said they ought to consider voting for him.

"If they are like myself, sick of 30 years of one party being ingrown and no discussion about anything back and forth, a Republican might see a reason to vote for a Democrat," Hildahl said.

The Falcon resident has focused attention on water and infrastructure, especially given the drought and a backlog of county construction projects.

Meanwhile Day, a Rush rancher who supported Bruce in the primary as a "lesser of two evils," plans to take out radio and television commercials with his funds. He said District 2 has long been ignored.

"We need somebody to take care of our roads, somebody to ensure security for eastern El Paso County," Day said.

In addition to selling off county property, Bruce would also eliminate the county manager and the county manager's assistant to save taxpayers $230,000. The county manager coordinates the day-to-day affairs of county government.

Bruce also wants personal volunteers to help him carry out the business of his office. Among them is Betty Beedy, a former county commissioner who lost a second term in office four years ago after she outraged many by her stance, made on national television, that only white people are "normal."


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