Thursday, February 2, 2012

The tyranny of small majorities

One must pity Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty, who runs the chamber with a one-seat majority. It takes so little to threaten majority control. Readers may remember last year when eye surgery kept a Republican member trapped in Colorado Springs during the session (his doctors forbade him to go over 7,000 feet above sea level, and it's hard to get from the Springs to Denver without doing that), almost costing Republicans the chamber.

Well, today we've got a new one. State Rep. Laura Bradford, a moderate Republican from the Western Slope, got pulled over on suspicion of a DUI recently. There was a dispute over whether she sought legislative immunity at the time or whether she asked the officer to treat her like any other citizen, and the police have been weirdly contradictory about this. Whatever happened, the Speaker initiated a House investigation of the case and stripped her of a committee chairmanship. Due to the lack of support from her party, Bradford is now considering bolting, leaving the chamber deadlocked at 32-32-1. A new Speaker vote would determine which party runs the chamber.

Now, of course, if Bradford ends up bolting, it won't be solely because of the traffic stop. She's butted heads with her party leaders on numerous occasions. But it's a good example of just how difficult it is to manage a small majority.

1 comment:

Dana Houle said...

I'm pretty confident Democrats are going to gain seats in Congress, probably quite a few. But any gain of more than 18 and less than about 40 is going to leave the House in a similar position to what you describe in Colorado.