Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman says the value of relationships among lawmakers can’t be overstated and predicted that this year’s session will produce results because of strong relationships across the aisle and between the chambers. Jobs and the economy are the key subjects this year, and Cadman says he’s confident both Democrats and Republicans will come together to ease regulatory burdens hampering job creation in the state.
During a wide-ranging discussion with The Colorado Statesman, Cadman talked about the upcoming session, the challenges of leading a caucus, and the value of using humor to bridge differences between legislators from across the state. He also compared the experience of riding in the passenger seat as his 15-year-old son sits in the driver’s seat with the time he rode in a stock car going 160 mph at the Texas Motor Speedway. The lesson he draws, he says, is to calm down while someone else has the wheel. “I’m going to relax because there’s nothing I can do about it,” Cadman says with his trademark laugh.
Born in Maryland but raised in nearly every corner of the country — the self-described “military brat” called Montana, Hawaii and Washington State home — the Army veteran and his family moved to Colorado Springs in the early 1990s. First elected to the state House in 2000, Cadman won a vacancy appointment to a Senate seat in 2007 and has been reelected easily since. He served as assistant minority leader under Minority Leader Mike Kopp and then was elected by his caucus to take the top job last fall after Kopp stepped down to devote time to his family.
Cadman says it’s top priority for him this session to try to make Colorado’s once-a-decade legislative reapportionment process truly non-partisan. After the months-long process wound up with a Democratic-sponsored map in place, Cadman found himself drawn into the same district as state Sen. Keith King, another Colorado Springs Republican. Rather than face each other in a primary, King decided to retire from the legislature, capping a chain of events Cadman blasts as “gratuitous” and “malicious” on the part of Democrats.
A week after the General Assembly convened for its 120-day session, Cadman joined Colorado Statesman editor and publisher Jody Hope Strogoff and political reporter Ernest Luning for an hour-long interview in The Statesman offices, on the afternoon of Jan. 18. He was accompanied by Senate Minority Chief of Staff Jesse Mallory, who joined the conversation briefly at a couple points.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, says he believes both Republicans and Democrats will embrace proposals to cut regulations he says are hampering job creation in the state. Cadman discussed the legislative session with The Colorado Statesman
last week at the newspaper’s Capitol Hill offices.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
The Statesman regularly conducts in-depth interviews with prominent political figures, including talks with Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont; House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch; and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, in our previous three issues. Find transcripts of The Statesman’s interviews with legislative leadership — along with more than two dozen other conversations with Colorado politicos — archived online at www.coloradostatesman.com/innerview.
Below is the transcript of The Statesman’s conversation with Cadman. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Colorado Statesman (CS): Even if today’s quiet, are you guys really hitting the ground running — is the session really taking off or are you kind of easing into it?
Bill Cadman (BC): You know, I think it’s pretty consistent. I’ve been here a while — the things that draw the most attention haven’t hit yet, haven’t seen any of the major issues. The budget is the big deal, as usual, the super partisan stuff. But until there’s floor work, until things actually make it onto the floor or until things go through committees that have a lot of turnout, it’s a little quieter. And having the first time to be there and not be on a committee, the world’s kind of centered around the next meeting and the next issue and the next bill and the next draft and the next meeting and the next… you know?
CS: Is it a lot different for you?
BC: You mean being in this job?
BC: It is, because it’s kind of like the bottom rung or a ladder. Everybody steps there first it feels like (laughs), on any given day. I mean it just is, it’s just you’re the point person for administration, you’re the point person for the legislative stuff, you’re the point person for media stuff, you’re the point person on the fundraising side, you’re the point person with the donors and the donor base in the party. And it’s kind of — Jesse (Mallory) is the chief of staff now, it all starts some place and it kind of starts with kind of us now, regardless of what it is. Lobbyists try to get to you first. Whether you’re on a bill or not if you’re not supportive they want to make sure it doesn’t become a caucus position, you know, so that you’re not trying to gin up because they understand that, hopefully the influence that that position brings. And sometimes when you try to come up with caucus positions. It certainly generates their interest.
CS: Is it a lot different than how you imagined it or did you not realize there was all these different things? Or is it just that you’re in it now?
BC: I imagined it would be pretty busy but you can’t really understand how busy it is until you’re sitting there. And having been the assistant I was in a lot of meetings that I’m in now before. But you didn’t have to do all of them and now you kind of have to do all of them. And the day doesn’t start at nine o’clock with the floor work, it starts with meetings that start at seven now and that go until late in the day.
After being drawn into the same district as another GOP senator — Sen. Keith King, who is stepping aside — Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, says he wants to remove partisan influence from the reapportionment process, a fix that would require a statewide vote to amend the constitution.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
CS: Does it go quite a bit longer, your day?
BC: It starts a lot earlier.
CS: Are you commuting back and forth?
BC: No, I stay up here the session.
CS: I was going to say, that would be tough.
BC: Yeah, matter of fact when I came up — I did come up, I came up Monday — no, Tuesday morning and it wasn’t even a snow storm, we had that little bit of dusting? Two hours to get here. It’s usually — on a good day, my house to the Capitol doors (is) an hour, hour and 10 minutes, a two-hour drive.
CS: Was that just over Monument Hill, or was traffic backing up south of town?
BC: The problem was Lone Tree, it was just a parking lot going there all the way up to way past Lincoln.
CS: Did it give you a new appreciation for transportation issues?
BC: (Laughs) I tell you what, I wish I’d been sitting on a bus working, you know? My oldest son’s driving now, so actually maybe sometime —
CS: Are you going to get a chauffeur?
BC: I do enjoy having him drive me around — of course I’m a little more attentive to what he’s doing, at 15.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, tells The Colorado Statesman
he glimpsed how busy it would be leading his caucus last year when he was assistant minority leader, “But you can’t really understand how busy it is until you’re sitting there.”
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
CS: He’s just got a learner’s permit?
BC: A permit.
CS: He can get experience driving all the way to Denver?
BC: But so far, so far — his first big day was when we came up to spend Thanksgiving with some friends and so it was an hour and 15 minutes of him — he was pretty nervous, he was sweating (laughs).
CS: And you were too? Were you a little white-knuckled?
BC: No, because — it actually made me calmer than my normal demeanor, because it’s like, you know, you can’t really do anything about it. But I did think back to a time when I got to ride in a stock car doing 160 around a track at Texas Motor Speedway. And there were seven other cars — my wife was in another one of the cars, and there were other people. And so we’re riding around and I realized — and these guys are giving you the full thrill, so it wasn’t just loops, they were passing each other, they were in and out, it was just like you see on TV. And the G forces of those cars hitting those banked turns at 160. And I’m sitting with a guy — this is years ago — I was sitting with a guy who was probably 10 years older than me, so it wasn’t like you’re driving with some young kid. But this guy was just Mr. Calm, Mr. In and Out. But you could reach out and you could touch that car next to you — it was that close. And I realized that I had gripped this metal frame of the seat so tight that, if they find me, this isn’t going to help me survive but they are going to find a guy that’s dead and totally stressed out — that’s what I thought. So I relaxed. But it was a — I had that kind of thinking coming up.
CS: Did you enjoy it?
BC: The Texas Motor Speedway?
BC: I did, but I did have flashbacks of that with my son, of, “I’m going to relax because there’s nothing I can do about it.” And you know, yelling at him doesn’t make him — you’ve just got to calm down, especially when they’re nervous.
CS: Well is that the way that you approach the Senate from a minority leader position?
BC: Calm? (laughs)
CS: Nothing to do about it, yelling won’t make a difference? What’s the approach from the minority?
BC: The key here — I think the key here is it really comes down to two major things: relationships and communication. And that’s both sides, and that’s within your caucus and externally. As you heard in my opening day remarks, I mean I cited being here for a decade of relationships that you’ve built with people on both sides to get something done or to stop something — and it’s — you do, especially in the minority, if you don’t have relationships you have no chance. And you can look at a lot of good things — as I mentioned, in my own history, of good things that I couldn’t get done when I was a Republican legislator in a Republican majority in a Republican committee watching a good Republican bill getting killed. So it takes — there is a learning curve here, and it comes back down to that. Relationships and communication.
CS: Relationships good this session?
BC: Yeah. You know, probably just that I’ve had the opportunity to develop relationships there because of serving together in two houses. Many of my colleagues in the Senate haven’t had that opportunity, so probably one of the good things about being in the Senate after being in the House with similar people, regardless of which side — you know them. You don’t have to prove anything to them, you deal with the issues probably based on a little bit more — typically a little more civil level. And not that we don’t all get emotional and don’t all get upset about something at some point. But part of that is just understanding where people come from. And, frankly, most of that is knowing that people are passionate about their ideas or their ideals and that’s just a belief system. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them or can’t appreciate them, it doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. But you certainly have to respect them, because we all got here the same way. We got voted to do a job by the people of Colorado.
CS: Do you think there are any differences between Democrats and Republicans in terms of people?
BC: No, I think you find — I mean, we’re all unique, obviously, and every session is unique, because there’s always some change, even if it’s just a member or two. It’s almost always some change in the makeup. But I think that’s really the cool thing about this representative government, it’s probably pretty representative. You have lawyers and teachers, and we’ve got a doctor, we’ve got nurses, marketing people, sales people, housewives that were stay-at-home moms. It’s a really interesting reflection of society. So — probably like any other work place or any other civic environment or institution — you’re going to have a natural attraction for some people and not as strong for others based on a lot of personality characteristics. Because, I guarantee you I’m not always super-well liked (laughs), but it doesn’t mean you can’t get along on any given day.
CS: You know, when (former Senate Minority Leader) Mike Kopp (R-Littleton) left, and you were going around the table at your election (to minority leader) —
BC: Yeah, yeah.
CS: — and everyone was talking, the fact that you have a great sense of humor was brought up. Do you think that’s helpful when you’re dealing with elected officials and politicians, to be able to look at things, perhaps, from an additional perspective?
BC: I think it comes in handy in most places, except when you’re meeting with the press.
CS: Why’s that?
BC: You two excepted (laughs). We were just talking about the Press Club event, and it was just like — you’d have that look [points to Statesman reporter’s expression of bafflement] — that was it! (Laughs). Yeah, so you recall. (Laughs.) “Breaking the ice” is certainly a term that’s been used for people that have the ability to kind of go beyond that rigid, stringent or strident policy level. Because at the end of the day, as I mentioned, if you don’t have the relationships and the ability to communicate with others and something to connect with somebody else, how much can you really expect to get done? If there’s an understanding of how each other feels or what your goals are, maybe you can find a common ground in there.
CS: Do you see anything particularly funny going on over there?
BC: Funny? Funny. Yeah, I don’t know, I’d have to come back to that. I’m more an impromptu person, so it has to be like, in the moment, you know?
BC: It’s your turn now.
CS: It’s been mentioned that civil unions is going to be coming up again. [Ed. note: State Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, introduced a bill on the first day of the session to establish civil unions for same-sex couples, a bill that passed the Democratic-controlled Senate last year, with the support of three Republican senators, but died in a GOP-controlled House committee on a party-line vote.] What’s your feeling of the measure of support in the Senate for that?
BC: It’s probably very consistent with what it was last year and, frankly, I haven’t done any polling of my members, we’re so busy getting our own stuff done. And, frankly, we’re spending most of our time talking about the things that we think are important to the people of Colorado, and right now as it’s been for year after year after year, frankly since ’07-slash-’08, it’s the economy, it’s jobs, it’s people are still getting their homes foreclosed on. It’s people that have quit looking for work. It’s those that are at the end of 99 weeks of unemployment, saying, “Now what?” You know? So, like any bill — and, obviously, that’s a significant issue, it’s going to come and —
CS: What are your feelings exactly on that bill?
BC: You know, I’ve shared my feelings on this over years and years. This is a really — this one hits people at an emotional level, at a spiritual level, at a —
CS: It’s not really partisan, necessarily?
BC: It’s not. When you get here you’re representing the way you believe, the way you were raised, your faith, your values and your constituents. And on any given day those combinations will lead you to vote one way or the other, period. And on this one, you’ve seen those sentiments expressed year after year from our colleagues, including myself, saying, “You just can’t agree with this policy level” — for a lot of different levels. And sometimes you’ve just got to agree to disagree, which is kind of the nature of this whole process.
CS: Are you optimistic that legislation — deregulation of some of the businesses across the state, that’s really going to happen this year? It’s something that the governor has talked about, and it seems to be kind of a theme. How optimistic are you that you’ll be able to get that passed?
BC: I’m really optimistic because the things that we’re seeing promoted aren’t necessarily coming from a caucus perspective. We’re getting, as I mentioned earlier, folks that are being regulated and folks that are trying to generate jobs and economic development in this state, come to us and say — telling us, “This doesn’t make sense,” or, “This costs too much money,” or, “This is both, it’s expensive and it doesn’t make sense and it’s prohibiting us from hiring one more person or growing our business.” From every type of business from restaurants to manufacturing to — you heard about the lumber mill, I think it was in Montrose — to oil and gas.
What we have here is a bookshelf full of statutes that have been generated over the years and it’s kind of like every year they kind of grow, they kind of grow. There’s another reg, there’s another little — there’s another bureaucratic kind of interruption, if you will, in the business environment. And it’s kind of like the sediment is building up, building up, building up. And we didn’t get them all at one time — all the rules and regs weren’t written in one year and — but kind of changing the climate. And you’re hearing that consistently from the Democrats in both houses, from the Republicans in both houses, from the governor: it’s time to really start clearing some of this away that’s impeding our ability to be successful here.
And it’s important that we get ahead of this, because we are competing with other states. We’re catching on too and you’re seeing the exodus from the fifth largest — I think it’s still the fifth largest economic force in the world, California — the exodus of Californians and the cost of doing business there. We can’t afford that. In a state of five million people, we can’t afford an exodus of any businesses. We’re down 100,000 jobs from four years ago — 100,000 jobs. We’ve got to get them back.
CS: Colorado’s often listed as one of the best places to do business, though, by a lot of different measures. By your account, though, Colorado is keeping businesses from being able to add jobs, unreasonably — is it time to clear out the regulations, like you’re saying? Or are there specific things that makes Colorado a more difficult place to do business than it should be?
BC: Well, I think you’ve got to look at industries — industry after industry after industry, they all have a pretty unique environment that they work in. Some of these places we compete with that can work anywhere, right? So to me, the important part of this is making sure that we stay on the leading edge of economic development, not on the lagging edge. Because other people are catching on — everybody has been hit by the same economic downturn so everybody’s being a little bit more attentive to this and you’re seeing economic development ramp up, state by state by state by state.
So I think people are finally catching on, because this wasn’t unique to Colorado, that kind of sedimentary effect of the regulatory environment that’s kind of creeped in. I think if we can give them a leading edge of transforming that, kind of changing that mindset, then that resonates out there. That’s where the articles get written, that’s where the publicity happens, that’s where the next guy reading a magazine says, “Oh, you know what? We’ve been thinking about doing something different. Look what they’re doing in Colorado, they’re actually making it more friendly, more welcoming to a business like this, and they want to see us there.” And I think it’s important to stay in front of that. It’s kind of the old adage, “If you’re not growing you’re dying.” If we don’t keep growing we will be dying.
CS: Out of a range of proposals for taking regulations and cutting things back that you consider burdensome, are there are one or two that you think would be most effective that would lead to more than a handful of jobs in Montrose with the timber regulation, but something more broad for the economy — that you’d be able to point to a year, two years from now and say, “That led to some jobs being created in Colorado”?
BC: I think one of the things we’ve already done, which was last year — the vendor fee, what we charge businesses. It was one of the few things that you could actually look to and say, “Here’s what we did, here’s the real amount of money really put back into the economy,” which was $52 million back into businesses’ hands. Divide that by the average wage of Colorado and see how many people could actually have been put to work by that: thousands of jobs.
That’s something you can’t — they’re not all so objective, right, but I think one of the things that we can do — and I’ll give you a for instance: when you look at the compliance costs of the auditing requirements of the state, etc., and you think what it costs for a business to go through that? I had a really good look at this, all right, because I serve on the statewide Internet Portal Authority, right, we’re a state authority. And we have recently been included in the audit requirements — performance audit and financial audit. So in our first audit — and this is a shop of three people. Actually, it was two people I think we just grew to three, right? Three people. When we looked at the first round of compliance of the state audit — which is what everybody has to go through as far as state entities — they’re asking for records that are beyond what we even have the capacity to keep.
So we started looking at the compliance costs for our shop of three people to call a bank and say, “Can you go back…” The banks want to charge $150 an hour for them to do the research for records that we don’t have. And I thought, what is this times a company that is ten times our size, a hundred times our size, 200 times our size? A company with 300, 400, 500, 600, 1,000, 2,000 employees? Multiply that out times just the auditing or the reporting or if you are subject to the multitude of layers of DORA (the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies) — I mean, what could this really cost?
So we’re looking at things that’ll hopefully give us — two things that’ll hopefully give us a really good idea on how to evaluate that going forward. Some of this is a long-term investment of time and interest now, and that is, to model a commission that does for us at the state level what the Small Business Administration does for the country at the national level. And they have evaluated the national regulatory environment and have put a $1.75 trillion price tag on this, nationwide, which is $30 billion of Colorado compliance for federal regulations alone. If we can do something like that — and matter of fact I have a bill to help us put that into place, very glad that the Senate president (Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont) has signed on as well, understands that this is an important issue, something that will give us some long-term results in this climate of regulatory reform. And if we can put that together and actually identify what we’re doing and what it costs and is it producing what is expected, I think it’s going to give us — kind of put us on that leading edge I mentioned. It puts us on the continuing to grow our economy because we’re taking an active role on this. That’s a — I’m trying to think, you asked for — ?
CS: Just a couple of examples of some things that you think really ought to be done this session, and that are going to lead to jobs down the road.
BC: You know, I think anything — again, those things didn’t grow overnight. They start to slow you down kind of like icing up on a wing. Eventually you can’t fly anymore. I think between the, what, two dozen bills that we have in the Senate, at least plus the Democrats — I’m just talking about the Republican bills — plus what we’ve heard coming from the House, they’ll have a cumulative, positive effect. It’s going to be very tough to put a real number on it like you can when you get a $52 million bump, but I can’t imagine it’s not positive. We’re getting great feedback now. I got an unsolicited message from someone the other day in the banking industry saying, “We’re really glad to see you guys tackling and interested in tackling regulatory reform.” Especially from an industry that’s getting hammered.
CS: Do you see a lot of difference between the Democrats’ approach to this, versus your caucus’ approach?
BC: I’m sorry, what’s the question? (Laughs.) I’m trying to stay favorable.
CS: Do you want me to rephrase it?
BC: No, no (laughs). Do you want me to re-answer it? You know, I can’t speak for the process that culminated in the Democrats’ proposals — I wasn’t a participant in them, I wasn’t aware of the meetings. But what I can speak for is the things that we’re promoting aren’t really partisan ideas, they’re not Republican ideas, they’re not Democrat ideas. These came from people that we met with that are in business that said, “These are our challenges and these are the things that are inhibiting us. These are the things that cost money and don’t make sense — can we take a stab at changing these?” And I will give you a really good example, which you guys are probably very familiar with from the summer, when you saw the regulatory proposals from DORA on the daycare centers.
BC: Which gets us back to one of our bills, which is how these rules get put into place. This thing came out of a — wasn’t it a sunset review coming up on that? And to me sunset review means — I’ve always had the connotation that, when it’s time to sunset review something, is it working? If it doesn’t work, it goes away, right? I’ve never thought sunset review meant growing something. And when they turned this 10- or 20-page, maybe almost 30-page regulation, into 100 pages of regulation, overnight, proposed to tell a company, a daycare center, how many dolls, what gender, how many colored crayons, what gender, on and on and on, I’m thinking OK, we’re missing the mark here, we cannot have this happen. Because we actually had daycare center owners come to our roundtables and they were going crazy, crazy about this type of proposal. Talk about a total disconnect from some bureaucratic entity generating some great idea they think’s going to help business. So back to the question of the differences, I just know that our proposals came from people that were looking for help.
CS: Senator Shaffer, when we did his interview, he said that there were a lot of things that you guys agreed upon and he thought he had a good working relationship with you. How do you see you guys working together?
BC: You know, we really — I think we do agree and you’ve heard the rhetoric repeated — and I’m not saying that demeaningly — but you’ve heard the goals and aspirations shared from both houses and both caucuses about what Colorado needs to grow. We all have agreed that more jobs mean more solutions to growing demands on shrinking resources. This comes down to trying to find the common ground to get us to those places that we agree on. And a great start was, frankly, him agreeing to this commission. That is something we could take a serious look at. And maybe it’ll provide us the tools for whoever comes behind us, because here’s a man who’s obviously not going to be in this legislature next year. Here’s a guy that agrees that a long-term goal of identifying what’s working and what doesn’t, is worthy of our efforts.
He helped me a couple of years ago on a bill that I mentioned opening day, to get rid of a bunch of targeted tax credits to people that lined up to take money from the TABOR surpluses and the refunds. A bill that had run in two houses within the majority and the minority, and with his help we were able to get it done. So you know, when you find those common areas of agreement, it’s great to have someone that’s got the credibility that he has in his position and a little bit of that in my position to have both caucuses kind of uniting behind you. Maybe that’s why they put you in that spot.
CS: Is it different for you this year because you have the constituents in your Senate district, yet you’re head of the caucus? Do you find that sometimes the needs of your constituents differ from, statewide, what the Republicans want to do?
BC: (Long pause) I would say that — district to district, especially county by county — county by counties, because some of these guys have multiple counties and I’m in part of a county — But there are definitely differences in the areas of Colorado. There are differences in the types of people and the characteristics and the values exhibited by their legislators that get sent here. We’re not all alike, we don’t have 35 — we don’t have, you know, 15 Republican clones, we don’t have 20 Democrat clones. And that’s the unique and kind of amazing thing about this process, is that balancing act.
But I will tell you what is consistent, is everybody comes here with their life-set of experience, their value system, and their belief system, and that, in combination with what they believe their constituents want them to do, generates some pretty interesting days. Because they’re not always in sync from one bill to the next, let alone one legislator to the next. And I’m probably fairly consistently one of the most conservative legislators there on virtually every issue, but you could take me and put me right next to the next guy that’s the most conservative or close — or maybe more conservative, if one did exist — and you would not find an identical voting record. It just doesn’t happen, we’re somewhat like fingerprints. We share a lot of similarities, but we certainly have differences as well.
CS: Do you find that it makes a difference to your constituents that you’re in leadership? Do they think that that’s — do they think you pull more weight?
BC: I think — yeah, I guess we’ll find out in the next election, huh? (Laughs.) I guess I see it more of a — to me I just see it more as service. I don’t consider myself at the top of the caucus or at the top of the party. I can kind of see myself now in this role of serving everybody, right? And when you’re not in leadership, you can somewhat isolate yourselves exclusively to your district, right? But now I do — I serve my district, I serve my constituents and I have to now — I mean, I chose to — take this opportunity to serve the needs of my colleagues as they try to do that for their constituents.
So I really do — I kind of have been jokingly telling people, like my father said, “What do you do now?” And I said, “Well I’m the minority leader.” “Well what does that mean?” I said, “Well you know what a ladder’s like, right? Two side rails and a lot of rungs? I’m the bottom rung because everybody steps here first.” And you know what, you have to have that, all right, or you can’t get to the next step. I really feel that way, that I’m here to help my members be successful because of my time here, my experience here, my ability here and, really, my relationships here. I have the opportunity, I think, to offer something of value to them to make them successful.
CS: Do you miss being able to serve on committees? Is there a particular —
BC: You know what? I’ve been on State Affairs for a long time, and it’s only been a week of not serving on the committee, so we’ll see if I have any withdrawals (laughs). But the good news is I can go any time.
CS: You can drop in.
CS: Have you been dropping in on them?
BC: Well, we just started, so I’ve been busy doing stuff like this.
CS: What’s the likelihood that perhaps, after the elections in November or actually in January, you might be senate president versus minority leader? Is that something that’s a likely scenario, do you think, or a little tougher (for Republicans to win a majority) than in the House?
BC: Right. We’re going to go out and campaign as hard as we can to win as many seats as we can. We’re going to promote a message that we think is reflective of the party’s principles, and, frankly, of Coloradans principles. And if we win that, and when that comes, then we’ll have to look at that then. But I’m really not — I didn’t take this job in the hopes that this would get me another job. Matter of fact, I was assistant minority leader because I really wanted to be in that role, and when this opportunity presented itself I took it because I thought it was my responsibility to do it. I really never saw — and I still don’t see — this as looking down to the next opportunity.
My responsibility is pretty significant here, helping my 14 colleagues get what they need done this year. And then, in that role, just like any other leader in that building, I have a responsibility to help get our message out and win seats, protect seats that are targeted by the Democrats and to target the seats that they have to protect. And I told a colleague last night from the opposite party, I said, “We are going to work really hard to take your seat but we’re going to do it straight up, because we think our principles and our values are reflective of the constituencies that we share.” And I won’t say he or she, but they smiled — which you could probably guess.
CS: You know, Sen. Keith King on opening day made his feelings known about reapportionment and what he thought. [Ed. note: King, a Colorado Springs Republican, was drawn into the same district as Cadman, and decided to step down rather than run against Cadman in a primary. The day the legislature convened, King gave an emotional speech about the Democratic-drawn legislative maps and his decision to leave the Senate as a result.] What do you think? Do you agree with him? Do you think the Democrats went off and pretty much targeted Republican incumbents?
BC: Yeah, it’s pretty obvious. I mean, you would have to be incredibly naïve not to assume that. And if you look at what they did, in my district alone, I mean, I am the width of a felt pen into Keith King’s district. I can actually roll a golf ball down the hill to hit the border. I used to live in dead center of my district, now they all changed. But when you, at the last minute, do something like that, that was an absolute gratuitous, malicious —
CS: You don’t think it was coincidental.
BC: It couldn’t have been. And frankly, the opening day assertions that, well, this just happens, from my colleague from the other side of my own town, Sen. (Majority Leader John) Morse (D-Colorado Springs), didn’t really add up when you were familiar with the process. El Paso didn’t have to lose a seat. And we didn’t have to lose an incumbent.
CS: Denver did? [Ed. note: Responding to King, Morse said Democrats feel his pain because two Democratic senators from Denver, Sens. Joyce Foster and Pat Steadman, were drawn into the same district, and Foster decided to defer to Steadman and step down. Because of population shifts, Denver lost a Senate seat, so it was assumed early in the reapportionment process that Denver wouldn’t have as many senators after the new lines took shape, but the same pressure didn’t exist on El Paso County seats.]
BC: Denver did. You cannot compare that situation to what happened in Denver.
CS: Right. Now we’ve got, I think, a contested primary for the open Senate seat with Larry Liston and Owen Hill, is that correct?
CS: Have you taken a position on that?
BC: Nope. I am not getting involved in primaries. My goal and my responsibility in this role and our leadership position is to represent our caucus and to grow our caucus. And the only way we can grow our caucus and protect our caucus is when we understand that, at election time, that our efforts are focused on winning seats for the Republican party, not picking winners or losers in Republican primaries.
CS: Are you taking a position in the presidential race?
BC: Haven’t yet, haven’t yet.
CS: Are you leaning towards — Might you, as the (precinct) caucuses approach, or is that also something you feel it’s important to stay on the sidelines?
BC: You know, I think it’s really important for me in this position as we’re trying to raise money and generate support for the next campaign for our colleagues, is to unify people around our message of economic reform and economic prosperity for Colorado and why the Republican principles are the best chance for making that successful in Colorado. And with that, the minute you declare for somebody, you are declaring against somebody else, and those are all the same people we need in our camp. So it really is my goal to not be distracted by so many other races, and let people know that we have a good team in place that has a serious opportunity to succeed in our goals, and to stay focused on that, period.
CS: Maybe it’ll be decided by the time Colorado has its caucuses.
CS: I assume you’ll endorse a Republican?
BC: Absolutely, absolutely. We’re totally, 100 thousand percent committed to supporting the Republican candidate for president.
CS: Of course.
BC: Right, sort of makes sense, doesn’t it? (Laughs.)
CS: It sounds like, though, that things might be mixing up again a little bit as South Carolina approaches, and it might not look as sure a thing for Mitt Romney as it did earlier this week. What are your thoughts about down in El Paso County? Is it going to be a real contest down there?
BC: For — ?
CS: For who comes out of caucus with the most support.
BC: Well you know, if we had — you know, I think, like any place in the country, especially obviously a very conservative, very Republican county, we’re going to set the primaries behind us and move forward. We’ve exhibited that in the past. We know El Paso County is certainly a key player, we’ve been able to determine the outcome of an election here or there. And we’ve got to get our folks rallied up, for not just the national stuff, but for our state races as well.
CS: How did you end up living in El Paso County?
BC: We moved here 21 years ago from Laguna Beach (Calif.) — my wife came to Focus on the Family. So, matter of fact, I heard they were moving here, I called her and said, “You know, we should try to get jobs and get out of California.”
CS: Laguna Beach is pretty nice, though.
BC: It is pretty nice. I’d only been there five years — I was born in Maryland, so I’ve kind of… I’ve lived in Maryland, Montana, Hawaii, St. Louis, Washington State, I was in the Army, I was in Germany. I’ve been all over the place. I’ve been here the longest place of any place in my life. I was a military brat — dad was in the Navy and I was in the Army, my brother’s in the Army.
CS: And you evidently like El Paso County?
BC: Well, I mean, I love skiing, I love being at the base of Pikes Peak and I moved here sight-unseen, had driven through Colorado once. So —
CS: And decided, yeah?
BC: It was — you know, how many places do you get to breathe the fresh air and look out at Pikes Peak in your back yard?
CS: Do you find that there are a lot more constraints on your personal time?
BC: Yeah. I mean, your time really isn’t your own, it kind of belongs to everybody that needs it. It really does — from the staff to the president of the senate to — you know, and running your own bills, which —
CS: Is it hard to make time? Do you have time for hobbies, for exercise, or is that just sort of off (limits) for a few months?
BC: I will tell you, this is the first year in six years that I didn’t buy a ski pass. I knew I wasn’t going to have time to go skiing. There were some other contributing factors with the kids but I just thought — last year, in a record ski year, I didn’t ski one day after February, and I knew with this job — I’ve been up here every day, not 24/7 but I’ve been up here —
Jesse Mallory (JM): Every day.
BC: Yeah, almost every day.
CS: Leave Friday and come up Monday?
BC: Yeah, a lot of midnights.
CS: Do you live by yourself?
BC: No, I stay with a friend in a house that I’ve lived with during session for 11 years.
CS: What part of town?
BC: I’m in Littleton. It’s still a 15-mile drive.
CS: OK, but it’s a lot easier than —
BC: It’s a lot easier than that two-hour drive, unless it’s a two-hour drive on a snow day, which it has been, for 15 miles.
CS: Have you gotten up skiing this season at all?
CS: No? Doesn’t sound like there’s much snow either.
BC: Yeah, I don’t even have my stuff in my truck. I built these nice sliding trays I could put all my stuff in, and they’re still in the bag. They’re in a bag in the shed where the birds like to sit, so they’re getting covered (laughs).
CS: You’ve been in the legislature before Amendment 41 and after. [Ed. note: Amendment 41 was a ballot measure approved by voters in 2006 that placed strict limits on gifts to government employees, including legislators, and banned entirely gifts by lobbyists, which has severely curtailed the number of receptions and similar occasions for lawmakers to mingle outside the Capitol with representatives of interest groups and with each other.]
CS: Do you see much difference in the ability of legislators to socialize and get to know each other as people?
BC: I do. And I made that remark in my opening day statement as well, about trying to find time for relationships. Because you don’t — if your only time with somebody is when you’re voting or debating something, that really becomes your whole connotation of who they are. That’s the person who never does this, or that’s the person who always says that. You really don’t have an opportunity to learn much more about people than how they vote or what’s behind their name, as much as there was before.
I remember sitting at a dinner one night when (state Rep.) Wes McKinley (D-Walsh) walked in, and he had just come out of his committee, shaking his head, “Oh man, they just killed my bill.” And I just looked at him and I said, “Wes, you think you had a bad day? Wait until you’re in the minority.” I mean, Democratic legislators just had his bill killed in a Democrat-controlled committee, and he was complaining. I said, “Welcome to the legislature.” So, you know, got to know Wes a little bit, Wes and I have done some work on a couple of things together over the years. And, yeah, I think it’s unfortunate that those opportunities aren’t facilitated like they used to be.
CS: Do you make an effort to socialize with legislators, to get an outside-the-Capitol perspective on folks?
BC: You know, they are — it’s just rare. It is just — then with the time constraints and — You know, what I found is amazing is how little you interact from both houses, because you’ve got your committees, you’ve got your bills, you’ve got your colleagues, and then when it’s time to interact with the other guys on a bill that you might be sharing with someone or carrying with somebody else, just how hard it is to make time, because the time demands are huge. And when you look at, already the committee schedules that are stacked up, the Judiciary’s stacked up, the Education’s already stacked up with 15 or 20 bills, you’re looking at committees that are going to go hours and hours and hours and hours on some of those.
CS: We’ve seen that last year. Last session it seemed like they started doing those really late ones early in the session — not just in April and May but right after the beginning (of the session).
BC: Well, look at two years ago — and I’m not picking on them — but the real issue around the Dirty Dozen Bills was they stopped everything. So they gave late-bill status to everything and stacked a whole agenda behind doing that group of bills. And that really was fatiguing for people. You had people working until midnight, night after night listening to long testimony, people waiting long hours. And you have to do it — once that stuff’s stacked up and you’ve got people waiting, if you start laying bills over, making the public come back and it’s inconveniencing that whole open — inconveniencing people that want to participate in open government.
I thought that was one of the more fatiguing periods here. You get used to working late as it gets toward the end. That came extremely early, and that was really tough on people. There’s a lot of people that don’t know here what it’s like to be up past 8:30. Well, at 12:30, you know who they are (laughs), you know? I used to joke with Keith King, say, “I know you didn’t stay up until midnight in college, you can’t be used to this.” (Laughs).
CS: Your colleagues, some of the leadership in the House, have made a point of saying they want this session over before 120 days. Is that something you’re on board with, or is it just see what happens?
BC: Yeah, I mean the sooner we — especially in a year where the first time that we’ve had, obviously — when you have June primaries, you have members, especially in the year where we had some that we weren’t planning or anticipating and —
CS: They want to get out and campaign.
BC: They got — I mean, there’s a lot of work to do out there as well, and it’s a way different time of year. June primary —
CS: It is, it’s going to take some getting used to.
CS: When I first moved out here the primaries in Colorado were in September, and then they moved them up to August. But from August to June is a big jump.
BC: It’s a huge difference for a legislative session that ends in May. Plus — and you know the process here — we’ve got caucuses coming up, we just had a (state Republican) Central Committee meeting last Saturday. This Saturday we have our (El Paso) County Central Committee meeting, and this obviously happens in both parties around the state. So your weeks are full here, your weekends are getting full with the campaign requirements, and then I’ve got a meeting at my county tonight for candidates for the upcoming assembly, which is in March. It’s very, very congested. I’ve got two kids that really don’t like my new job.
CS: How old are your kids, 15 and — ?
BC: And 13.
CS: Just think of it that way — then there’ll be five months to campaign between the primary and the election.
BC: Right, right. (Laughs.)
CS: Keep everyone busy. Are you impressed with Gov. (John) Hickenlooper?
BC: You know, I like him as a person. I mean, there’s probably not too many people that don’t. I enjoy our discussions with him. I guess, so, as a person I think he’s great. Effectiveness on policies, etc., the responsibility of the legislature and the governor to work together, I guess we would leave that as TBD. (Laughs.) [Ed. note: Hickenlooper announced during his State of the State address a week earlier plans to tour the state asking Coloradans where they want the state to go in an open-ended initiative he dubbed “TBD,” or “To Be Determined.”]
CS: Do you think he’s wishy-washy at all, or do you think he represents more the Democratic agenda, or do you think he’s got a good sense of the business community because he comes from that?
BC: He’s really a hybrid, right? I mean, he promotes himself as a hybrid, and he’s probably fairly accurate. He has certainly put himself in a unique position in that role that we haven’t seen here. And for us, and for those of us that share the goal for Colorado to become more economically viable, I think he’s a phenomenal cheerleader for the state. I think he’s very comfortable and adept at being in a room with CEOs and folks that he can promote the economic benefits of being in Colorado. On the other, kind of the legislative/policy side, when you frankly are on the first floor and you have a second floor that’s split, most of the stuff that gets neutralized that would probably call you out where your positions are on specific things, because of just the nature of bills that never see your desk. Can’t really give someone a report card when they haven’t had to take the test.
CS: And (former Democratic Gov.) Bill Ritter, he had a Democratic House and Senate and it was a little bit easier to see where he stood because he got all his Democratic colleagues’ bills.
CS: Do you think, though, that Gov. Hickenlooper has met the test when you’ve thought that the governor should step in and either mediate or take the lead on something?
BC: You know, that’d be tough for me to answer because I don’t know — this comes down to, in that place, your relationships with both caucuses, both houses and the leadership. And I’m never really in a place where I get to observe his relationship with the other leadership or caucuses, so I can’t answer for that because I don’t see any of the results of that, specifically.
CS: We’ve heard that there’s a lot behind the scenes but that’s stuff you’re saying you might not have been privy to yet?
BC: Well, it’s just not something — right, I mean, I can’t judge what I can’t see.
CS: You’ve mentioned that you went from assistant minority leader to minority leader, and you’re not necessarily looking down the line, but would you ever like to serve in Congress or do something differently in politics, or run for a statewide office?
BC: Yeah, you know, you never say never. But a lot of this is interest, timing and opportunity: Where someone is in their life or career, where their interests lie and where the opportunities or openings come up. So all those things really are a unique combination. Term limits kicked in 10 years ago, so the first person to ever talk to me about running for office was (former) Sen. (Ron) May (R-Colorado Springs), when he was Rep. May. And he said, “You know what you need?” He came into my… He used to work for Congressman (Joel) Hefley (R-Colorado Springs). He comes into the office one day and says, “You need to go to the RLP” — which is now the (Leadership Program of the Rockies) — “because you need to run for my seat when I’m done.” “OK, let me think about that, that’s a pretty good idea” (laughs). So that created an opportunity coming open, and Bill Owens gets elected governor, Ron May gets on the short list for transportation secretary — he didn’t get it. But I thought well, you know what, I’m going to start calling the vacancy committee.
So it was just about making some phone calls — and the opportunity was there, the interest was there and the timing was there, the perfect place in my life to take that seat at that time. And those things do need to align for everybody at some point, regardless of what their next step is. So you never say never, you think about it. I’m not hanging my future on the next public service opportunity but if all those three things are aligned at that time then at least I’ve got now a pretty good amount of experience that I could probably jump in there with some comfort level.
CS: You grew up in Maryland, near the District (of Columbia)?
BC: No, I actually was born in Maryland, then moved to San Diego — my dad was in the Navy.
CS: Navy brat?
BC: Then, divorced parents, moved to Montana with a step dad and then from 17 on I was pretty much on my own. My mother died at 17, and those parents were divorced, so I’ve pretty much been on my own since then — trying to make my way.
CS: Have you been to Washington often or many times?
BC: I went there a few times working for Hefley and then I’ve been there now with my service in the legislature as a member of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), and of course we have a meeting there every year, every other year, the winter meeting. I had tried to go there once to work, we had an opening in Hefley’s office and it came down to two of us and I didn’t get that job. I stayed where I was.
CS: Glad you stayed?
BC: Yeah (laughs). The guy that went there went there — actually, you know who went there was Herman Stockinger who went to DC then came back and now he’s… gosh, he’s pretty far up in the (Colorado) Department of Transportation right now. So Herman’s been a longtime friend, colleague.
CS: Do you get a sense that, with all the public outcry over what’s going on in Congress, and the tone of the debates and the unhappiness of people — do you sense that it’s spilled over into the state Legislature? Do you find a lot of people upset just about politics in general here in Colorado?
BC: I think people are generally concerned about the future of the country. I think people are hugely concerned about a $14 trillion debt that’s taking 25 percent of our GDP. A quarter of our productivity services a debt that’s growing. You can’t avoid the real issues that are facing people with the increases of costs, the decrease of jobs. I mean, the economic problems that we face affect us all. To me, I’m watching inflation hit me higher than what they say it is. It seems like a $20 bill is like the new 5, right? I went to a McDonald’s the other day with me and my son, it was $16.50 for a McDonald’s, for two meals. I’m like, wow. I don’t eat at McDonald’s much, but seemingly that’s where you went when you couldn’t afford to spend $16.50 some place, right? But it’s not anymore.
CS: Do you sense that people feel that towards their state legislators too?
BC: It varies. I don’t think you can generalize, but the dissatisfaction with Washington is pervasive and not everybody distinguishes between state government, federal government, local government. And from the e-mails, I could tell you, when I was at Hefley’s office to e-mails I get now which are about federal issues, not everybody knows where the lines are drawn.
CS: Exactly, or they’ll talk about a state congressman.
BC: Right, right.
CS: Do you do a lot of door-to-door in your district? Is that a way that you keep in touch with constituents?
BC: We do a lot of town meetings, over the years. And El Paso County is a pretty active area politically and there’s a lot of people that are — all the Republican clubs that we have.
CS: You don’t have to draw people out that much to find out what’s on their minds?
BC: Well, you know where they are, right? But I have walked a lot of doors, I’ve, frankly, walked door-to-door to keep my first Republican opponent off the ballot in my first election, you kept them off the ballot at the assembly.
CS: Who was that?
BC: Now why do I have to name people at this? (Laughs.) You guys should dig for this.
CS: OK, well, do you like campaigning?
BC: I do, that’s the fun part. The people is the fun of being here. I mean, it’s probably obvious by how I act with people, but that is the fun part. I’ve got people that I met door to door that are still — you meet someone the first time, they’re helping you the first time and you develop a bond. Those two things I talked about, communications and relationships, we get a consistent group at town meetings. It’s the same group that go to all of them.
They stay connected, you remember their names. I still have all the notes from the first conversations I had with people 12 and 13 years ago, because I took copious notes on what their interests were.
CS: Do you use social media much these days to communicate?
BC: I tweeted twice last year. Did I tweet twice?
JM: We’re getting there.
BC: I’m catching on. I’m not sure if that’s all going to stick around. It’s definitely — I am not the most adept at it yet but I’ve got some really good people that are. That are making us technologically more savvy.
CS: Definitely, your staff is out there with that. Are you a consumer of that kind of stuff, if not a producer?
BC: Do I watch tweets and — ?
CS: Do you read blogs and read Facebook to keep up with folks, or is that not the easiest way to keep up with them?
BC: Yeah — I read most of my stuff online. I still get The Wall Street Journal via the paper, obviously we get The Statesman, because you have to, or how would you know what’s going on (laughs)? But there are certainly people in my caucus that are way more active on the social media stuff than I am, tweeting and Facebook and —
CS: And whatever’s next — Google+, maybe?
BC: Right, what is? I mean, I’m still sad that my wife’s making me throw out 8-track tapes (laughs) because I think they’re coming back. (Laughs.)
CS: Sooner or later.
BC: Yeah (laughs). I actually just set up my phonograph at Christmas, we were playing LPs for my kids.
CS: Well that’s coming back.
BC: Yeah. I have a really good player, too. It was top-end back in the day and now it’s, “Ooh, look at that!”
CS: How did the records sound?
BC: Good, because I always took really good care of them. But even a brand new record pops, right?
CS: What were you like in college?
BC: (Laughs.) Just like this, but younger and better looking (laughs).
CS: Were you conservative back then too?
BC: Yeah, and I was actually… You know, my mom was a Democrat and I didn’t really know that until she came in one day screaming that we’d been vandalized. And this was before 911, right, dial phones, 1972. “Oh my God, oh my God, someone vandalized our car?” “What, what?” And then she goes, “Oh, go look, they’ve done a —” And I went out, I’d put a Nixon sticker on our bumper, and she wasn’t kidding. I mean she thought somebody had come by, up our driveway and —
CS: That was the vandalism?
BC: That was the vandalism, the Nixon sticker. So I worked on my first campaign, when I was 12, for Nixon in San Diego County. And so were my grandparents, too, they were Democrats.
CS: Is there anything else you want to bring up? I’m conscious of your time.
BC: Have I babbled enough?
CS: There is one thing that we’ve asked the other (legislative) leadership, which is what, if you really had your say, what’s — other than the budget or some of the jobs and economic recovery bills — that you’d really like to see out of this session?
BC: Besides those?
CS: Yeah — people are in agreement that those either need to be passed or are something that needs to be done. Other than those, do you have a pet bill you’d like to see?
BC: A pet bill? A pet bill. I think we’re all the pets of the bills. I mean they take… Sometimes they take, they manage you.
BC: That’s a good one.
CS: We didn’t bring that up — you’re going to be tackling the reapportionment process this year?
BC: Right. I am looking at running a resolution to redo reapportionment, to truly make it non-partisan.
CS: You mean even after the system worked so well this year (laughs)?
BC: Right, right. And that was the goal of how it was changed, back in the day — it obviously didn’t work. And, frankly, I think we’ve got to look to those that come behind us, as I mentioned, to insulate them from partisan operatives on both sides. This is not blaming either party. We have a system that is a system because of the parts that it’s made up of, and we need to change that.
CS: On the outside, it looks like a good process, but it just doesn’t seem to work that well. Or it works well, to a point, and seems to break down, or veer off one way or the other?
BC: Yeah, and I think the more that you can remove it from that ability to get the external influence — again, the partisan influence (from) both sides — the cleaner it’ll be, and I think we can restore integrity to it. Because I don’t think that’s the —
CS: Are you looking at the Iowa model?
BC: We’ve been looking at the Iowa model for the base and, you know, I’m getting input because it’s not — certainly, anything that’s like this is not going to be Bill Cadman’s sole and exclusive idea, we’re going to need some buy-in. But you’ve heard fairly universal agreement from both houses and both parties that we shouldn’t let those that come behind us inherit this wreck 10 years from now.
CS: Will that take a constitutional change?
BC: It’ll definitely take a referred measure, yeah. Of course then you have a referred measure that you have to get some support for.
CS: Do you think is this year the time to do that?
BC: You know what, it’s a good time to start, I would hope. You said if I could wave my magic wand.
CS: That’s the question.
BC: That would be a good one to — if you only had one wish, and you wanted to do something besides the other issues that we talked about, this would be one that could serve us for a long time. And maybe if we can get this done, then maybe down the road we might get some favorable reconsideration of the statewide (congressional) redistricting as well. Because that seemed to be a mind-numbing process for all those involved.
CS: That was frustrating from the inside too?
BC: I think it was. Very frustrating for the members. A lot of public testimony, a lot of people felt like their efforts were in vain.
CS: All right, well, we’re so appreciative of you both coming over here —
BC: Oh, you bet.
CS: — and sharing your views and articulating your positions. Thank you for your time.
BC: You bet. Nice to be over here, cool place.