The 2022 session had no shortage of bizarre moments, thanks to the offbeat behavior of lawmakers and others.
The most delicious — or stomach-churning — moment, depending on your tastes: The Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating Contest, part of Colorado’s Legislative Sports Caucus Day, was held on April 21.
For Easterners or other Colorado newbies, the Rocky Mountain oyster is what you get when a bull turns into a steer. Look for it. The oysters were sliced and fried to perfection, and the contest, which included reps Richard Holtorf, R-Akron and Perry Will, R-New Castle and a few teenagers, was on.
Holtorf and Will didn’t fare well – they had eaten before the contest and were quickly full. The winner was Griffin Mendez of Highlands Ranch, who took down four in one minute.
There were also more than a few oyster cowards at lunch, who will not be named (Senator James Coleman, ahem), to protect the culprits.
Holtorf, second round: The “Bard of Akron”, in a hurry to get to the vote on the Reproductive Health Equity Act on March 14, did not have his handgun properly secured and dropped his gun in front of a group of Horrified lobbyists outside chamber of the House. There were no injuries, although a lobbyist – also unnamed – said when the gun landed it was pointing straight at his lower region.
Uncashed cheques: One of the strangest discoveries in 2022 was a pair of 2021 checks made out to the Senate Majority Fund. The checks were found in the men’s restroom on the north side of the Capitol’s ground floor. They eventually ended up in the hands of the Secretary of the Senate. The chairman of the Senate Majority Fund, Senator Paul Lundeen of Monument, and the fund’s executive director told Colorado Politics they have no intention of collecting those checks. One would have five digits.
Governor takes bicycle safety seriously and correctly: On a trip to Queen Palmer Elementary School in Colorado Springs in April, Gov. Jared Polis rode the gym on a small bike and wore a helmet — properly. He’s been known to put a bike helmet on backwards in the past, so the lesson has been learned.
The red carpet awaits you: Probably the first Colorado lawmaker to walk the red carpet at the Oscars was Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. Her husband, David, was nominated for a statue for screenwriting ‘Don’t Look Up,’ a dark comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio. And no, the Sirotas weren’t on Oscars floor when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock.
Favorite April Fool’s joke: The Senate Democrats’ staff wins for stealing Senate Speaker Steve Fenberg’s brand new couch and replacing it with an inflatable model that failed in its mission to hold air, especially with Fenberg on it.
The biggest mystery: Without question, the title belongs to whoever caused approximately $700 in damage to a third-floor bathroom at the northeast end of the Capitol in March. The culprit, who damaged the ceiling tiles and left debris in the sink, did not exit through the door, as it was found locked, and it can only be locked from the inside. Apparently, an unidentified woman was the culprit, and she might still be wandering around the attic of the Capitol.
Everyone is Irish for a day except Senator John Cooke, R-Greeley: Cooke is Anglophile. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but on St Patrick’s Day he ran around the Capitol with a Union Jack flag and wore an orange tie – in solidarity with Northern Ireland and the British Empire, not with Ireland. “Long live the Queen, and may the sun never rest on the British Empire!” Cooke was heard exclaiming.
Elephant Oddities: House GOP mascot Goliath was kidnapped and later had his ear smashed during an encounter with one of the stairwell cannonballs. It had to be resoldered.
The saddest moment: The arrest of Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. Police arrested him for an alleged DUI while at his children’s school on April 21. Gray provided more news than almost anyone in recent memory, including running away with Goliath. He was a good player, even when the jokes were directed at him and not by him.
Gray did not return to the Capitol after the arrest, participating remotely throughout the remainder of the session, and dropped out of his bid for a fourth term in the House. Good luck, Rep Gray.
Loving farewell: To Senate Speaker Leroy Garcia, who traded the president’s gavel for a job at the Pentagon in March, and to Gary Donovan, who grew up on Capitol Hill from a puppy.