Nasal surgery and the face of Mesa County politics
Hello, nose. Meet face. Hope the knife was sharp and the slice swift.
Cutting off your nose to spite your face is the first thing that comes to mind in the unfolding saga of state Rep. Laura Bradford’s Denver traffic stop, her resulting pique over her treatment by fellow House Republicans, and Speaker Frank McNulty’s quick call for an ethics probe.
I’m not talking about drinking and driving, carrying while consuming, whether or not McNulty actually described her as “toast,” or her threat to leave the GOP and throw legislative politics into turmoil. Not the Keystone Cops nature of the Denver Police Department’s handling of the Bradford traffic stop. Or whatever or whoever it was that convinced Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster he ought to jump into this jammed up mosh pit and weigh in, supporting McNulty.
Each of those, as well as the haste in which this newspaper and others jumped on initial erroneous reports and drew what have since been proven to be hasty conclusions, might in themselves be column fodder. And it’s admittedly challenging to be writing about this Sunday as the hastily assembled ethics committee was set to begin its work Monday, and with a decision by Bradford about her future still pending.
But let’s go back even further than the extended Happy Hour a week ago last Wednesday at the Prohibition Lounge in the low-rent district that runs along what used to be the main east-west highway through Denver: Colfax Avenue.
I’m thinking that among those who might be reattaching a severed proboscis would be then-board members at the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce who, in all their assembled endorsement wisdom and for no apparent reason other than pure partisanship, decided a few years back that representation by a back-bench freshman legislator would be a step up from re-electing a Joint Budget Committee chairman who was a safe bet to be the next speaker of the House.
To put it in Wasilla-speak, how’s that workin’ out for ya’ down there at Fourth and Grand these days?
Bradford might also be in need of some nasal-area facial reconstruction at Dr. Bill Merkel’s clinic.
Let’s start with her threat to leave the GOP. Sure, it would enable her to get back at House Republicans who aren’t showing her enough love, and also at McNulty, who sits in the speaker’s chair by virtue of a one-vote majority. But that entails becoming a Democrat (that’s “off the table,” she said last Friday) or an independent (more likely, if this happens at all.)
Bradford has virtually assured that her legislative career is indeed “toast.” Just making the threats pretty much guarantees that. And it’s too late to qualify for the ballot under whatever new banner she might choose. That would force running for re-election as a write-in candidate.
But it wouldn’t be too late to head on down to the courthouse to change her name to Laura Kathleen Bradford-Curry.
You’ll recall Kathleen Curry’s conversion to independent a few years back while she was similarly torqued off at fellow Democrats. That cost the Gunnison County lawmaker a committee chairmanship and her House seat after she was forced to run as a write-in candidate.
Curry’s decision may have been made without the benefit of three glasses of wine. No word on whether she had a loaded niner under the seat of her car.
Here’s what decisions like the one made by Curry and the one Bradford spent the weekend considering really mean.
It means the decision-maker has reached the point in their public career when it’s all about them and their feelings and not about the constituents they’re supposed to be representing. If not, why would they consider, even for a moment, abandoning the power they have as committee chairs, as members of the majority, that puts them in a much better position to influence actions favorable to those who elected them?
As this is being written, Bradford still hadn’t announced her decision. If she bolts the GOP, there’s at least one silver lining for a sitting Mesa County legislator.
Ray Scott might be able choose the district he wants to run in after apparently being caught in an untimely post-redistricting residential relocation.
You can’t make this stuff up. Sometimes these columns just write themselves.