Controversial Republican loses Colo primary
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” Republican state representative Douglas Bruce, who has a history of provoking controversy, narrowly lost Tuesday’s primary election to political newcomer Mark Waller.
Waller won 52 percent of the vote to beat Bruce, who became the first member of the state House of Representatives to be censured after he kicked a news photographer on his first day in office.
Waller, a lawyer who got support from some of Bruce’s fellow lawmakers, won by only 320 votes in the heavily Republican Colorado Springs district.
Waller said Bruce was an “embarrassment” to the district and acknowledged that much of his own support came from people who were frustrated with Bruce.
“I’m excited to show people not only am I not Doug Bruce, but I’m the right guy for the job,” said Waller, pointing to his experience in the Air Force and as a prosecutor in Pueblo.
He’ll face Democrat Michelle Maksimowicz in November’s election.
Bruce didn’t return two telephone messages left at his home for comment.
Bruce was appointed to serve out a vacant term in the House and but irritated some lawmakers by delaying his swearing-in until after this year’s session began. That made him eligible to run for an extra term under the state’s term limits law.
He kicked a photographer covering his first day in office during the daily morning prayer in the House chamber. Bruce later called it a nudge and compared himself to Jimmy Stewart’s underdog character in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”.
Later in the session, Bruce was ordered to leave the House podium after calling foreign farm workers “illiterate peasants.”
House Minority Leader Mike May removed Bruce from the state, veterans and military affairs committee after he refused to co-sponsor a resolution honoring military veterans. Bruce, the author of Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights, said that such resolutions didn’t have the force of law and were a waste of time.
Voters chose party candidates in 17 other legislative districts across Colorado.
In Weld County, incumbent Republican Rep. Glenn Vaad held off newcomer Marc Yingling, winning 54 percent of the vote. Vaad faces Democrat Bill Williams of Frederick, a Vietnam veteran and former president of Denver’s air traffic controllers union, in November’s election.
In suburban Denver, Camille Ryckman easily won over Jefferson County school board member Vince Chowdhury in the House District 22 Democratic primary. Chowdhury was listed as a candidate despite pleading guilty last month to third-degree assault for slapping and trying to choke his 16-year-old daughter. More than 20 Democratic state lawmakers endorsed Ryckman, a rare move in a primary.
Ed Vigil, a Costilla County commissioner, beat Alamosa physician Rocky White for the Democratic nomination in House District 62 in the San Luis Valley. The incumbent, Democratic Rep. Rafael Gallegos, failed to earn a spot on the ballot at the party assembly.
Randy Baumgardner beat Daniel Korkowski in the Republican primary for House District 57, which spans six mountain counties. Incumbent Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, is one of eight members of the House who can’t run again because of term limits.
Turnout was light in many areas Tuesday as many voters cast mail-in ballots.
In El Paso County, clerk Bob Balink said about 45,000 people voted by mail, surpassing the approximately 30,000 who did so in 2006. Overall, he said he expected turnout to be about 25 percent of active voters.
Jefferson County clerk Pam Anderson said 57,650 people had voted by mail by the time the polls opened Tuesday. That’s more than the total turnout for the 2006 primary election.
But in southern Colorado’s Costilla County, most of the 2,365 voters still like to cast their ballots in person.
Clerk Dolores Burns said 82 people requested mail ballots and only 64 voted early.