The Capitol has several domes now that House of Representatives leaders have shaved their heads in support of Majority Leader Bruce Newcomb, who is undergoing chemotherapy for lymph cancer.
Early Friday, House Speaker Mike Simpson led Newcomb, Assistant Majority Leader Thomas Loertscher and Majority Caucus Chairman John Tippets to a group buzz cut, prompting moments of both levity and solidarity throughout the day.
“I look like Mike Tyson - come on buddy,” said Simpson, sparring off the House floor with Sen. David Kerrick, R-Caldwell.
“He looks like Telly,” said Kerrick, referring to the late Telly Savalas, shorn actor.
“Who loves you, baby,” quipped Simpson.
Newcomb has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. The 54-year-old Burley Republican said he was diagnosed more than a year ago but recently resumed a treatment that doctors say will give him between nine and 12 years without a relapse.
With his chemotherapy causing his hair to fall out faster than he expected, he was going to shave his head this weekend. His plans were cut short when Simpson took his colleagues to a 7 a.m. special session at The Place to Be, a local hairdresser.
“It’s really heartwarming,” Newcomb said. “It makes you feel touched. People are really good, really supportive, but that’s just going the extra mile.”
The newly bald Simpson’s arrival on the House floor yielded a smattering of chuckles, right up until the Speaker admonished, “You’ll get yours.”
“We haven’t done this just to be funny,” said Tippets, R-Bennington. Rather, he said, it was a way of telling Newcomb, “We don’t care how you look, we think you’re the greatest.”
His remarks brought a 25-second ovation and a choked response from Newcomb.
“With friends like you,” he said, “how can I lose?”