We miss you already, Douglas Bruce

Categories: News
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His bark was worse than his bite. Really.

The August 12 primary election results don't overflow with surprises. The electorate proved again that name recognition is the most important factor when turnout is low. Hence the victories of Mike Coffman, well known as Colorado's secretary of state, and former Westword profile subject Jared Polis, who purchased his notoriety via a $5.3 million campaign contribution to himself, in their respected Congressional races. Still, the real tragedy -- from a journalist's perspective, anyhow -- was the defeat of Douglas Bruce, who lost his reelection bid for the state House of Representatives by a single digit margin to Air Force veteran Mark Waller.

No more Doug to dig? That's even less of a kick than the one he took at a Rocky Mountain News photographer when he was sworn in to office earlier this year.

Fortunately, Bruce has certainly proven capable of making a stir outside of the legislature. Read on for examples.

Our January Bruce roundup began with an August 1994 Off-Limits item filled with revelations about Bruce, including his decision to launch a challenge against the IRS after declaring the care and feeding of himself, his girlfriend, her son and their dog as a business deduction. He lost this argument in U.S. Tax Court in 1982.

Next up was a February 1995 column in which Bruce said that authorities who censured him for the deplorable conditions of several properties he owned had attacked him because of his anti-tax crusades. "I'm a victim," he declared.

Bruce victimized himself later that year, as pointed out in this December 1995 roundup. After being sent to jail for contempt of court, he "staged a brief hunger strike, vowing not to shower, shave or eat solid food until his release."

By the time of this October 1999 feature, Bruce was back in fighting trim, battling a highway plan proposed by then-Governor Bill Owens. By the following January, when this story saw print, Bruce was pushing a tax-cut ballot initiative in his usual quixotic manner; he claimed "to have submitted 180 different versions of his tax cut to state ballot title officials since 1995." Shortly thereafter, in this February 2000 column, Bruce's conflict with Secretary of State Gigi Dennis took center stage. Dennis, whose bill proposing limits on citizens' right to petition seemed created with Dougie in mind, interpreted something Bruce said to her as a threat and subsequently suggested that he "might be in need of mental-health counseling." Hmmmm.

A May 2002 offering about Bruce's continuing battles with the "property police" featured more sterling examples of wit and wisdom; he ranted against "bastard idiot lying crooks." He moved on to budgetary matters in time for a January 2003 report -- but in 2006, he put the focus on his personal life, as documented in a May Message column. He posted a personal ad on a dating website under the heading "'Leave It To Beaver' Traditionalist Seeks Mate." A reporter from the High Plains Messenger site responded and documented her sit-down with the man himself at a Johnny Carino's restaurant. Afterward, Bruce was upset about the illustration that accompanied her tell-all -- "It made me look like a fat midget," he said -- and less than complimentary about the reporter. He described her as "a homely, skinny woman with bad teeth."

The good news, then, is that Douglas Bruce won't fade away. But elected officialdom in this state just got a lot more boring. -- Michael Roberts


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