If Doug Bruce Hates It, How Bad Can It Be?

Doug Bruce.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

The inimitable tax-hating ex-con Doug Bruce is coming out swinging late in the campaign fight on issues he can’t stand…

The former El Paso County commissioner and state legislator, a devout Republican, takes special umbrage with his own party for supporting amendments Y and Z to change the way the state draws legislative and congressional districts, putting the map-making authority in the hands of independent commissions instead of under politicians who benefit from those maps.

Bruce said the two 12-member commissions — one for legislative and one for congressional districts — leave out minor parties, since they are one-third Republicans, one-third Democrats and one-third unaffiliated. Members also would be selected by retired judges, who overwhelming would be appointees of Democratic governors…

“It doesn’t fix it,” Bruce said of the ballot questions and gerrymandering. “It just slants everything to the Democrats, and the Republicans bought it hook, line and sinker.” [Pols emphasis]

As the author of the sweeping 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), Doug Bruce retains credibility among conservative Republicans that few other convicted felon tax evaders–not to mention one of the shortest and least illustrious records serving in the Colorado House–would expect. There are at least some Republican voters in Colorado who will hear that Bruce is opposed to a given measure and respond by opposing it too, just on the strength of Bruce’s recommendation. So, there’s that.

Back in reality, as the Gazette reports, the agreement that resulted in Amendments Y and Z had input from most of the principal Republican players in the last redistricting cycle, including those who claimed afterward with little factual basis that the 2011 redistricting/reapportionment process had led to a Democratic advantage. The state’s persistently split legislature and majority Republican congressional delegation do not support that contention, but it was the starting point for Republicans in the Fair Maps Colorado coalition–and their concerns have by their own admission been satisfied.

For our part, we’ve been on record for years consistent that the 2011 process was actually pretty good overall, and the resulting competitive districts and narrowly split elections we’ve seen for most of the 2010s has been reflective of the state’s political landscape as a whole. It was therefore our general view that initiatives to re-jigger the process were dubious solutions in search of problems, or at best a needless response to far worse gerrymandering headlines from other states. With that said, the careful, bipartisan crafting of Amendments Y and Z make them much less likely to produce any kind of nefarious result, which is what distinguishes this from previous failed attempts.

As for Doug Bruce? Notwithstanding a few holdouts, he’ll win these amendments more votes than he pulls.

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6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    The Colorado maps have avoided the worst excesses of the reapportionment process. Hallelujah, we aren't North Carolina or Maryland.

    If Doug Bruce doesn’t like the process, that is a solid basis for considering it, helping to overcome my hesitation to put even more rules into Colorado’s constitution. Seems to me as if nearly everyone should support development of a process that further minimizes partisan arguments, diminishes efforts to advantage one dominant party and increases the need for broader consensus.

    Requiring principles for boundary setting in advance, a set of algorithms for compactness, and a random starting point could further assure less bias.

  2. DavieDavie says:

    I'm leaning toward a positive vote, but I have three issues:

    1.  What if one of the major parties does implode (before or) after a mass exodus to a newly born MOTR party?  Are the names of the Republican and Democratic parties hardwired into this constitutional amendment?

    2. If all races are competitive, then money in politics will absolutely explode, right?  Will everyone running for office necessarily be a multimillionaire, or in the pocket of one?  Dark money PACs will rule the airwaves.

    3.  With Democratic majorities in Colorado fairly likely, do we really want to give up our potential advantage just now?  Why can't we give this a try in 2022?

    • JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

      Point 3, first. The re-apportionment will happen AFTER the 2020 census (assuming the Trump Sad!-ministration lackey Wilbur Ross is able to make it happen on time).  Elections in 2020 will be under existing rules and districts.

      2. Money in politics has ALREADY exploded. Television stations are excited about the contributions to their bottom lines.  Consultants are pleased. I just read an article about an Iowa state Senator who had Presidential campaign staff (already fairly highly paid) competing for the opportunity to pay him $8-10,000 per month to join their campaigns (annual pay from the state is $25,000 and a per diem for official sessions).  One king maker on the Republican side is rumored to have been offered $300-500,000 for his endorsement [and $300,000 goes a long ways in Iowa real estate or buying "only" a senator].

      1. Good point, and it probably would have been better if the committee members were assigned by proportion of registrations (providing an incentive to get people to register). But, party labels have remained the same for 150 years. If the two-party system blows up and we have one major and multiple minor parties, the once a decade re-apportionment process will be the least of numerous governing assumptions that need to be addressed.

      • DavieDavie says:

        Point 3 first.  Yes, I know.  That's why I suggested taking a run at this in 2022 elections so that if we have a cemented majority in 2020, we use the current rules, not the "fair and balanced" rules.  Then they wouldn't have any impact until 2032, and I'll be in a rest home or my ashes scattered in the mountains 😉

        Point 2.  Yes, it just keeps getting worse (or as with income inequality, only the most corruptible candidates get the big money from the finite pool available, starving out the good candidates)

        Point 1.  I agree it is a low percentage problem, but you'd think for a constitutional amendment, they'd have a little foresight.  Probably means Colorado would retain the legacy party name as an alias to the national MOTR party if this eventuality ever comes about.

        But yes, I'll probably grit my teeth and vote in favor of it.  But if Kent Thiry becomes our next Senator because of this, I'll hold you personally accountable!

        • JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

          Point 3 … I try to think of the best thing to do without trying to figure out partisan advantage. Delaying the improvement on the off chance Democrats win a sizeable advantage in the next two elections doesn't seem like the best thing to do.

          Point 2 … there have been a number of campaigns able to be competitive based on "citizen funding" … and some where excess amounts of money appear to have not been sufficient, and the underfunded won.  2016 national elections had about $6.5 billion spent. That's less than $20 per person, under $50 per voter.

          Point 1 … foresight and Constitutional amendments. Don't know why we'd start now. These two are surprisingly bipartisan enough to get through the Legislature … expecting thinking outside the box of the existing system may well be a bridge too far.

          And you can blame me more nearly anything … but Kent Thiry seems like a long, LONG shot for Senator. I think it would take Gardner being named to the Cabinet or VP, a new Republican candidate, a fair-to-middling Democratic candidate, and Thiry running as an Independent and pushing LOTS of money very, very well for him to eke out a victory.

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