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Former state Sen. Bill Cadman hitting the slopes in Breckenridge in March just before the state shut down ski areas in the face of COVID-19. (Photo courtesy Bill Cadman)

Brief bio:

  • Member of the Colorado Senate, 2007-2017 (representing Senate District 10 in El Paso County, then SD 12 following redistricting); Senate president, 2015-2017; Senate minority leader, 2011-2015.

  • Represented District 15 in Colorado Springs in the state House, 2001-2007.

  • Holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from California State University; veteran of the U.S. Army.


Colorado Politics: You were the second to last Republican to preside over the state Senate. Will there ever be another — or is Colorado shifting to the left for the long haul?

Bill Cadman: Yes, there will absolutely be another Republican Senate majority and president in the future. Politics and political fortunes are like the sands shifting in Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park — they are constantly moving as the forces upon them dynamically reposition them, sometimes in great amounts, sometimes lesser. With the Senate chamber alternating majorities by just one or two seats, from districts where victories are derived from the slimmest of margins over the years, majority control has been tenuous. With changing demographics, legislative redistricting on the horizon and the constant evolution of political campaigning, anything is possible. 

The people who said Republicans would never control the Colorado Senate were the same ones who said there’d never be another Republican U.S. president. No party should assume they will be victorious forever. One of my former Democrat colleagues, whom I won’t identify other than to share he was from Boulder, publicly asserted several times, “I just never thought we could lose,” after finding himself serving in the minority for the first time.

CP: What does the Colorado GOP have to do to win over more of the state’s unaffiliated voters? Polls in Colorado long have indicated our Republican president is a turnoff for that voting bloc — the state’s largest. Should Republican office seekers in Colorado embrace or shun Donald Trump?

Cadman: Every sitting president affects elections. Sometimes presidential campaigns get the credit or the blame for outcomes down-ballot. However, the candidate who makes the most profound connection with constituents in their district on the issues important to them will have the best chance of victory, even in a “wave” election year. That is why Kevin Priola and Cheri Jahn won seats against the political tide. 

Also, there is strong evidence that unaffiliated voters align with Republicans on significant issues. Time and time again, they have voted with Republicans to stop Democrat-led efforts to increase taxes, attack the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), and shut down energy production across the state.

CP: An elephant in the room — if you will forgive the expression — for Republicans during the 2020 legislative session is that by having been cut short amid COVID-19, the Democratic-run General Assembly had to shelve some of its most progressive proposals. In your view, was the state saved by the bell?

Cadman: The economic shutdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic indeed presented a historic legislative challenge, which frankly isn’t over yet. Unfortunately, the first domino had already been flicked into the budget maze before the pandemic shutdown. So much additional spending had been baked in from last year that failure was inevitable.

In a news report last September, several Joint Budget Committee members actually conceded that they might have spent too much and were concerned about the upcoming shortfalls. Consider these disclosures to the Colorado Sun:

  • Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo: “There were a lot of bills passed last (session) that have continued spending … and some of those were very large ... I don’t think we completely all truly understand what we have obligated ourselves to.”
  • Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada: “I’m very concerned ... I was concerned last year. And the fact that the estimates (for required spending) are coming in so much higher, just increases my concern.”
  • Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City: “I think the blame can be shared equally if there are any issues.” 

These JBC members include two who served as committee chair. The budget they sponsored and passed with other legislators who voted “yes” was already producing a significant financial storm, which would be completely dwarfed by the tsunami of the COVID-19 quarantine just six months later.

CP: Measures were passed that alarmed the business community, among other stakeholders. What from a conservative perspective were the most egregious measures adopted by lawmakers this session?

Cadman: Even more “egregious” than some of the bills themselves was the absolute disconnect with reality on full display under the Gold Dome. The Democrats were consumed with extracting cash from the private sector to save and increase public spending. They proposed more than $4 billion in new fees and additional costs on Colorado businesses. The original version of HB-1420 contributed significantly to this overall price tag.  

While Colorado employers were trying to stave off collapses and foreclosures, the Democrats were wringing their pockets right down to the lint in the bottom. Demanding significantly more resources from entities that suddenly had less was irrational and completely the opposite of federal efforts to put trillions of dollars back into the hands of businesses and individuals. One of their proposals even nullified some of the assistance provided to companies by the federal government in the CARES Act. 

Another bill that deserves public scrutiny is HB-1153, which provides collective bargaining for state employees. It’s hard to fathom how this legislation rises to the level of “critical statewide need” during a pandemic, or anytime. 

Collective bargaining for public-sector employees puts union interests on both sides of the bargaining table where employee salaries, benefits, retirement and working conditions are negotiated. While reducing services to citizens and driving up the costs to taxpayers, this system has generated premium benefits and protections for government employees that are not obtainable in much of the private sector.

Creating this new scheme in Colorado generated a fiscal note of $9 million, which the legislature magically found during a $3 billion budget shortfall. The future costs of this plan will be exponentially higher than these startup costs. 

Upon returning to the Capitol after the creative, extended “recess,” Democrat leaders proclaimed a truncated session would ONLY be utilized for legislative proposals that were “fast, friendly, and free.” Unfortunately for Colorado taxpayers, they went zero for three!

CP: What have you been up to since leaving public office a few years ago?

Cadman: Upon leaving the legislature, I served as the vice president of corporate and government relations for Whiting Petroleum Corporation. After three years of working with amazing people in that great company, I am now back in the consulting world and am engaged in several interesting projects.

One effort I am very excited about is empowering community leaders who are committed to improving access to quality education for Colorado kids. Engaging with people who have incredible passion for helping students learn, flourish, and excel is almost as rewarding as the mission itself.  Consider this an invitation to join our efforts!

CP: Will you ever seek political office again — and whether or not you do, is there an elected post you haven’t yet held where you think you could make a real difference?

Cadman: After 16 years serving as a legislator and seven years working for a member of Congress before that, I would not rule out returning to public service at some point in some capacity.  For now, however, I am enjoying life in the private sector while not having to commute to an office or the Capitol. I also enjoy having a better schedule in the winter, and, despite the early season closure, skied the most days in a season since 1985. Life is great in the Colorado Rockies!!

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